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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 faculties.

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

Republican lawmakers plan to pursue a measure to permit dad and mom to say tax {dollars} beforehand earmarked for public faculties to cowl personal or dwelling education prices. Iowa’s GOP-controlled Legislature accepted 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 powerful speak on these points contrasted along with her extolling the pursuit of middle-of-the-road insurance policies elsewhere in Tuesday night’s tackle to a joint session of the Home and Senate. She additionally known as for continued bipartisanship within the inaugural tackle 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 tackle. “So, somewhat than distracting ourselves with wedge points, let’s concentrate on giving them the assets and help 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 Photograph/John Hanna)

Kelly had been scheduled to present 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 finances 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” revenue tax, with one charge every for particular person and company filers, as a substitute of three for people and two for firms.

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 Okay-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 beneath Kelly, the state is on a path towards making Okay-12 faculties “into little greater than factories for a radical social agenda.” Masterson has mentioned he desires to pursue restrictions on how public faculties focus on gender and sexuality, like what critics name Florida’s “Don’t Say Homosexual” regulation.

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 faculties, to show younger individuals away from the instructing career.”

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

“We wish prime quality classical schooling that focuses on tutorial excellence, making ready our children for a profitable future, not the sexualized woke agenda we see permeating the system at this time,” Masterson mentioned.


Kelly’s tackle got here solely hours after a whole bunch of abortion opponents and parochial faculty college students rallied outdoors the Statehouse to mark final Sunday’s 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade resolution, which the U.S. Supreme Court docket 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 beneath the Kansas Structure.

Kelly applauded the August vote however did not point out abortion within the State of the State tackle. GOP lawmakers count on to push for hundreds of 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’ll proceed to combat.”

Annually Kelly has been in workplace, she has known as on legislators to increase Medicaid as inspired by the 2010 federal Inexpensive Care Act championed by former President Barack Obama. Republicans who strongly oppose the transfer have held sufficient key management jobs to dam enlargement, whilst 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 accepted a plan in 2021, it by no means had even a committee vote within the Senate.


“On daily basis, hundreds of Kansans are pressured to decide on between breaking the regulation and residing with out ache,” Kelly mentioned. “It’s an insufferable selection — and a completely pointless one.”

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