By Tim Carpenter
Ken Cannon intends to take hiring tips from the two well-known coaching Bills -- Snyder and Self -- if elected governor of Kansas.
Sam Brownback plans to devote his first few months in office to rolling back business regulation and taxes to spur job growth, while Tom Holland expects economic recovery to allow restoration of budget cuts to education, disability programs and public safety.
Andrew Gray said he would concentrate on hiring "people that you trust" in the executive branch and reform the state's tax system.
Only one of these candidates for governor will be granted the opportunity by voters Nov. 2 to build upon their ideas during the next four years. Republican nominee Brownback and Democratic nominee Holland represent mainstream parties that dominate the state's political landscape, while Gray represents the Libertarian Party and Cannon the Reform Party.
The jumble of requisite job placements and appointments, the struggle to balance the state government's budget, the push and pull of special interests seeking policy change and the heartache felt by those suffering through economic recession make formation of a new gubernatorial administration a head-spinning affair.
Among the four candidates, Brownback and Holland are the only two with previous state government work experience. Brownback, a U.S. senator from Topeka, was Kansas agriculture secretary. Holland, of Baldwin City, served in the Kansas House before elected to the Kansas Senate.
"In the first 100 days, it's going to be about growth," Brownback said. "Create jobs that provide a meaningful increase in income and opportunity for Kansas families."
He said the state had to tighten screws on state business taxes and to root out regulations that drain that capitalist momentum of entrepreneurs. He said excessive regulation was the bane of small business, which have the greatest potential in Kansas for putting people back to work. A regulation czar will be appointed to search for outmoded rules and laws serving as roadblocks to job creation, he said.
"We have to improve regulations, control government spending and work towards lowering taxes, particularly on capital used to create jobs," Brownback said.
He's convinced state government can do better promoting staples of the Kansas economy.
"Things like aviation, animal agriculture," Brownback said.
Holland said he would open his tenure as Kansas governor in January with a bipartisan cabinet of professionals drawn from people who define themselves as Republicans, Democrats and independents. The staff will provide "moderate, pragmatic leadership that puts politics aside," he said.
His coalition government will present to the Kansas Legislature a balanced budget that protects public education, vulnerable disabled and elderly citizens, and public safety.
"If revenues continue to be above expectations, which we believe they will, this budget will invest new dollars into K-12 education and our regents institutions," Holland said. "This budget will also put Kansas on the path to eliminating the waiting lists for Kansans with disabilities by increasing the resources available for these services."
He said state revenue generated by the Kansas Lottery would be directed to workforce training in aviation manufacturing, renewable energy and technical programs to address unemployment. He also would work on revitalizing the horse and dog industry by expanding gaming opportunities at race tracks and form a bipartisan commission to develop recommendations on repeal of unfair and ineffective tax exemptions held by special interest.
Cannon, a retired schoolteacher who is running on the Reform Party ticket, said he would initially concentrate on appointment of an executive branch staff that reflected professional ability rather than partisan affiliation.
He vowed to set the foundation of his administration by following the recruiting approach of Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder and University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self.
"They're very successful because they recruit and put the right people in the right places," he said. "I'm going to recruit the best people, no matter what party you belong to."
He said his central policy objectives would be job expansion, public education and health care.
"People need jobs so they can put food on the table of their families," Cannon said.
Gray, a Topeka businessman nominated by the Libertarian Party, said his first 100 days in office would be devoted to creating a progressive culture that would allow people to thrive while shifting the state in new policy directions. He's an advocate of the "fair tax," which would get rid of the state's income tax and make up the revenue with a higher statewide sales tax. Overall, he said, the goal would be to limit the scope of state government.
"You go ahead and get yourself surrounded by people that you trust and people that will assist you in getting policies that you have in place. If you get that done, then everything will fall in place," Gray said.