Jana Goodman (Republican) and Melanie Meier (Democrat) are running for the Kansas House of Representatives in the 41st District, which is in Leavenworth. Goodman is the incumbent. Meier has been elected to two terms in the 40th District but is now running in the 41st District.
Name: Jana Goodman
Political party: Republican
City of residence: Leavenworth
Previous political experience: State Representative, 41st District, two years
Name: Melanie Meier
Political party: Democrat
City of residence: Leavenworth
Previous political experience: Two terms Kansas House of Representatives
1. What do you consider the top issues facing the Kansas House of Representatives?
Goodman: Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Progress in the Kansas Legislature since 2010 was historic: a budget surplus, improved employment numbers and more money for Kansas families. Kansas went from a half-billion dollar deficit to a half-billion dollar budget surplus. Serving on the education, social services budget, and corrections and juvenile justice committees, I will continue to shape a number of important bills.
Meier: Education is the top issue facing Kansas and making tough decisions to promote a quality educational system will be a priority. The drastic cuts of the last four years have resulted in increased class sizes, increased school fees and good teachers have been laid off. Our children’s futures are on the line as well as the future of our state.
2. What do you think are some of the unique challenges for someone representing the 41st District?
Goodman: The 41st District needs a growing Kansas economy. Uncertainty and over regulation stifle small businesses. Unlike Washington, Kansas is creating a friendly business climate with stability and predictability for the costs of doing business. This is already showing results in job and revenue growth. Our families depend on this. I am committed to keeping Kansas on the path to prosperity.
Meier: In the 41st District, we have a highly diverse population, with a large number of military, veteran and correctional officers. This means that a good number of people here work in the public sector. With a military background, I understand the unique issues, and I understand and appreciate working with diverse groups of people to get things done.
3. How do you feel your experience in the Legislature has made you a better candidate?
Goodman: Hard work and real values have earned the trust and respect of my colleagues as well as endorsements by the National Federation of Independent Business, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Americans for Prosperity. To do this, I maintained a 100 percent attendance record, kept my word and made representing my constituents my full-time job.
Meier: During my term, I became recognized by my colleagues as the expert on military and veteran issues. This experience opened my eyes to a lack of understanding of the unique challenges that face our military personnel and veterans. My role has allowed me to be an ambassador for military and veterans issues and to take that message far beyond Leavenworth.
Page 2 of 2 - 4. What do you believe should be the state government’s approach for growing the Kansas economy?
Goodman: Kansas is coming back! Fixing the economy, putting people to work and helping families requires more jobs, a “kitchen-table budget” and a well-educated workforce. As a member of the majority party, it is easier to accomplish things of substance — not just ceremony. Thus, I can effectively work for all the people of Leavenworth and keep us on the right track.
Meier: The key to growing the economy is putting money back in the pockets of the people. That means growing jobs, promoting entrepreneurial opportunities and tax reform. We must focus on companies that hire Kansans and give people starting their own businesses a fair chance. We must end the sales tax on food and lower property taxes.
5. What changes, if any, do you feel should be made to the state’s tax system?
Goodman: Kansans are taxed too much. I have focused on bread and butter issues. Every dime makes a difference. We even pay taxes on milk and eggs. It’s just out of control! In the Legislature, I introduced a food sales tax repeal. The exemption passed the House easily. I will continue to fight for this next session.
Meier: State cuts have shifted costs to the local level in the form of increasing property taxes. Ours have gone up over 65 percent in the past decade, and will continue to rise as the state pushes more funding responsibility to cities and counties. As a state, we must make sound fiscal decisions that solve issues rather than simply shift the burden.
6. Do you believe there should be reform in the way the state funds public education? If so, what changes should be made?
Goodman: I am a mother, grandmother and math teacher. Education is very close to my heart. Serving on the Education Committee, I see Kansas’ financial commitment to education (2/3 of the general fund budget). We spend over $12,000 per student. Even at just 20 students per class, that’s $240,000. Kansans expect this money to go into the classroom — not bloated administration.
Meier: The school funding formula is sound and based on data and proven methods. Under the formula, children across Kansas have received an equitable education, and schools have prospered. Should the Legislature choose not to continue its commitment, the burden will shift to the local level, resulting in higher property taxes and our children’s education falling behind more prosperous districts.