State Sen. Barbara Bollier hosted a virtual town hall with Saline County residents on Monday evening.
Bollier, a physician and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, made the stop on her statewide “virtual bus tour” to speak on such topics as health care, the Supreme Court’s latest decision, climate change, reducing deficits and debt, college affordability and farm bills.
She said people need affordable health care, child care and to be able to pay their utility bills. This has been an issue across Kansas, especially with the coronavirus pandemic reaching the state in March and affecting many families.
“All that needs to be looked at and addressed,” Bollier said. “One in five Kansans have ended in debt, either medical or collections, because of medical debt. Their co-pay (and) deductibles are too high.
“They also can’t access actual health insurance. One emergency can send them into (bankruptcy).”
Bollier said she was satisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision Monday that ruled the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“I’m thrilled that the Supreme Court supported equality injustice for all in this country,” she said. “There was an attempt to get an expansion of Second Amendment rights to include absolutely guaranteeing the right to have automatic weapons, etc. They refused to hear that case (Monday).”
Pamela Martin, of Barton County, asked Bollier what her policy would be on climate change.
“This is an urgent issue and we need to be addressing it and not ignoring it,” she said. “One of the reasons why a woman of science needs to be there (is) to help them understand there is scientific evidence of this change. I think farmers sometimes vote what appears to be not in their best interest, but on my end, my first promise is I will commit to getting us reduced in our carbon output in this country by 50% by 2030, (and) by 2050, having the goal of net zero.
“If we don’t deal with this, they won’t be able to grow their crops. They’re already looking at changes in the ability to water.”
Bollier was also asked if work would continue to reduce deficits and debts that continue to accumulate because of COVID-19.
“One of my great concerns after the election (was) with all the Republicans that ran on reducing the debt and then turning right around and passing a tax policy very similar to what (former Kansas Gov.) Sam Brownback did to cut taxes and increased significantly our national debt,” Bollier said. “That was not good, and then we had a pandemic. We’re having to spend more money to take care of our people. Right now, we don’t know who’s paying what because there’s so many ways to get out of it. I’m not going to jump on any tax cut or tax break or tax raise until we look at the actual ability to change those loopholes.”
Kansas Wesleyan director of bands Carl Rowles asked about the affordability of college for the near future. Rowles added that he works with students who are getting into education and the loan forgiveness program.
“We must make education at higher ed after K-12 affordable and reasonable for people,” Bollier said. “I think people are going to make some difficult decisions and (ask) the Board of Regents to really make some decisions about what we can afford to keep in the state. I think people will have to decide and work with our state Board of Education to get more people engaged with post K-12 ed that isn’t necessarily four-year college.
“We end up with people who shouldn’t have been there in the first place with massive debt and no degree and no way to pay off that horrible, horrible debt. We need to be looking and coordinating with businesses to get people careers so that people will have a good wage and an opportunity to do something people want to do. The debt is too high.”
Bollier was asked whether she would support programs that support farmers in Kansas. If elected, she anticipates being on the Agriculture Committee.
“It’s so important for us to really bridge that rural, urban divide with programs like SNAP to help people understand what our farmers do and the food they produce, and (their) connection to all of us in urban areas,” she said. “My urgency is to get our market back. I don’t want to see us going backward.”
Bollier also mentioned that Salina has a special place in her heart. While in medical school and when she had to go somewhere for a weekend, she chose Salina because of George Marshall, who was friends with her father.
Anyone who wasn’t able to have a question answered by Bollier in Monday’s virtual town hall may visit bollierforkansas.com to submit questions and for more information.