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Kansas Gov. Kelly accuses GOP legislature of ‘distracting’ public with ‘wedge points’

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly known as Tuesday for Kansas officers to cease distracting themselves with “wedge points” in schooling, sharply rebuking a Republican-controlled Legislature pursuing insurance policies catering to conservative dad and mom sad with public colleges.

Kelly used her annual State of the State deal with to decry what she known as efforts to “flip dad and mom in opposition to academics” and “flip communities in opposition to their colleges.” She wasn’t particular, however prime Republicans have promised to pursue a number of concepts in vogue in GOP-led states, together with restrictions on what public Ok-12 colleges can educate about gender and sexuality.

Republican lawmakers plan to pursue a measure to permit dad and mom to assert tax {dollars} beforehand earmarked for public colleges to cowl personal or residence education prices. Iowa’s GOP-controlled Legislature permitted such a plan early Tuesday. Kelly strongly opposes the thought.


Kelly additionally toughened her tone in advocating for the legalization of marijuana for medical makes use of, calling the state’s present prohibition “ridiculous.” She highlighted the case of a terminally sick man who had his northwestern Kansas hospital room raided by police as a result of he was utilizing marijuana extracts to ease his ache.

The Democratic governor’s robust speak on these points contrasted together with her extolling the pursuit of middle-of-the-road insurance policies elsewhere in Tuesday night’s deal with to a joint session of the Home and Senate. She additionally known as for continued bipartisanship within the inaugural deal with that opened her second, four-year time period earlier this month.

“All of us agree our children do higher when dad and mom and academics are concerned of their schooling,” Kelly mentioned within the ready textual content of her deal with. “So, fairly than distracting ourselves with wedge points, let’s concentrate on giving them the sources and assist that they want.”

Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly decried public education as a "wedge issue" while addressing Republican officials Tuesday.

Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly decried public schooling as a “wedge concern” whereas addressing Republican officers Tuesday. (AP Picture/John Hanna)

Kelly had been scheduled to offer the State of the State on Jan. 11 however examined constructive for COVID-19 the day earlier than, solely to be taught later it was a false constructive. Her workplace went forward with releasing her proposed $24.1 billion state price range for the 2024 fiscal yr starting July 1.

The state is flush with money, and Kelly already had proposed a sequence of tax cuts, together with the elimination of the state’s 4% gross sales tax on groceries on April 1. Republican leaders are pushing a proposal to maneuver Kansas to a “flat” earnings tax, with one fee every for particular person and company filers, as an alternative of three for people and two for companies.

Republicans outlined an agenda two weeks in the past that features measures well-liked with GOP conservatives in quite a few different states, together with a ban on transgender athletes in women and girls’s Ok-12, membership and faculty sports activities. Kelly has vetoed two earlier proposals.

In Republicans’ official response, taped two weeks in the past, Senate President Ty Masterson, a Wichita-area Republican, mentioned that underneath Kelly, the state is on a path towards making Ok-12 colleges “into little greater than factories for a radical social agenda.” Masterson has mentioned he needs to pursue restrictions on how public colleges talk about gender and sexuality, like what critics name Florida’s “Don’t Say Homosexual” legislation.

Kelly declared: “Know this: I’ll oppose any efforts which might be designed to show dad and mom in opposition to academics, to show communities in opposition to their colleges, to show younger folks away from the educating occupation.”

State Rep. Kristey Williams, a Wichita-area Republican chairing a Home committee on Ok-12 spending, mentioned she is engaged on a plan for schooling financial savings accounts for folks, utilizing tax {dollars}. Masterson mentioned the GOP will “concentrate on college students, not legacy programs.”

“We would like prime quality classical schooling that focuses on educational excellence, making ready our children for a profitable future, not the sexualized woke agenda we see permeating the system right this moment,” Masterson mentioned.


Kelly’s deal with got here solely hours after lots of of abortion opponents and parochial college college students rallied exterior the Statehouse to mark final Sunday’s 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade choice, which the U.S. Supreme Courtroom overturned final yr. However Kansas anti-abortion teams suffered a decisive political loss in August, when a statewide vote strongly affirmed protections for abortion rights underneath the Kansas Structure.

Kelly applauded the August vote however did not point out abortion within the State of the State deal with. GOP lawmakers anticipate to push for thousands and thousands of {dollars} in new funding for anti-abortion being pregnant counseling facilities.

Home Speaker Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican, opened his remarks on the anti-abortion rally with, “Good afternoon, God’s warriors!” and promised, “We are going to proceed to struggle.”

Every year Kelly has been in workplace, she has known as on legislators to broaden Medicaid as inspired by the 2010 federal Reasonably priced Care Act championed by former President Barack Obama. Republicans who strongly oppose the transfer have held sufficient key management jobs to dam enlargement, at the same time as voters in different Republican-leaning states have embraced it, together with Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Kelly additionally has pushed legislators to legalize marijuana for medical makes use of. Whereas the Home permitted a plan in 2021, it by no means had even a committee vote within the Senate.


“Day by day, 1000’s of Kansans are compelled to decide on between breaking the legislation and residing with out ache,” Kelly mentioned. “It’s an insufferable selection — and a completely pointless one.”

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