Governor Kelly promotes bipartisan approach in State of State address Featured

Governor Laura Kelly mentioned a desire for bipartisanship as she discussed four main goals for her first year in office -- education funding, Medicaid expansion, foster care overhaul and rural economic development -- during her State of the State address Wednesday. Governor Laura Kelly mentioned a desire for bipartisanship as she discussed four main goals for her first year in office -- education funding, Medicaid expansion, foster care overhaul and rural economic development -- during her State of the State address Wednesday. WIBW-TV screenshot.

Urging lawmakers to work together, Governor Laura Kelly also began outlining policy goals for her first year in office as part of her State of the State address Wednesday night.

Kelly hit on four main policy themes, and the one that got the most rousing applause was her long-stated goal of expanding Medicaid.

Kelly also promised to end the cycle of education litigation, saying the state will end a pattern of unfulfilled funding promises, and she promised to overhaul the state's foster care. In addition, she announced a new committee will find ways to boost rural economic development.

Area lawmakers had a mixed reaction to the policy points and the overall tone. Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine says Kelly took the right approach by highlighting the need for Republicans and Democrats to work together.

60th District Representative Mark Schreiber applauded Kelly's goal of expanding Medicaid.

51st District Representative Ron Highland felt the speech spent time jabbing at the leadership of former governors Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer, and he does not support a Medicaid expansion. On the topic of rural economic development, however, Highland says a new committee may be a good idea.

76th District Representative Eric Smith supports Kelly's push to reset foster care, but he is skeptical about Kelly's education funding and Medicaid expansion plans -- and, more than anything, her plans to submit a budget without any tax increases.

Lawmakers will have a full day Thursday, including their first overview of the upcoming budget. Kelly said she would draft a K-12 funding package separate from the overall budget, but she did not say whether that would be presented Thursday. Lawmakers say it could be Friday at the earliest before they can dig into the budget details.

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