By Mason Poepperling / Staff writer

Election Day is approaching. With Nov. 8 being the day Americans vote in the midterms, much is at stake for Democrats and Republicans nationwide.

In Kansas, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly is going for re-election against Republican nominee Derek Schmidt, the Attorney General.

Here is a look at where the nominees stand on many issues.

Education   “First and foremost, it’s the governor’s responsibility to ensure that our public school system is fully funded, and we have done that for the past four years,” Kelly said during the 2022 debate. “I also think it’s important for the governor to be a champion for our schools and teachers and our students and parents and I have done that. I have been a very, very strong advocate for our public school system ever since I came to Kansas and I will continue to do that. I have said often that I want my legacy to be that Kansas has the most robust comprehensive early childhood education system in the country, and we’re working now with our businesses and our communities to ensure that that legacy is fulfilled. We know that kids are having a lot of mental health issues long before the pandemic, so we are developing mental health services in our schools in partnership with our community mental health centers.” Kelly’s statement on emphasizes her focus on keeping public schools funded, while also highlighting the steps that have been taken for mental health support for students. Kelly also mentioned at the debate Schmidt’s support for cuts to public education. “I have a hard time being lectured by you Derek about our public schools. Let us remember that it was you who was in the court defending the cuts to public education under the Brownback administration.” These cuts in April 2014.Education   “So many Kansas kids and families are suffering right now because their kids were locked out of schools, their lives were disrupted, they’re dealing with serious mental health issues, suicidal ideation is up, we have to do more to be a voice for those parents and families and kids whose voices have not been heard, and I think that’s an important role for the governor,” Schmidt said. It should be noted that during his time as Attorney General, the state of Kansas has done little to implement laws to help curb state suicide rates for anyone of any age. During his rebuttal, Schmidt said, “It is critical that we keep Kansas schools constitutionally funded. I’ve committed to that and we are going to do that as any governor would, because it’s legally required in this state. It’s not enough just to write the check. It doesn’t accomplish what we need for our kids to fully fund schools and then lock the kids out of them or not stand up to support parental involvement. Parents are much more engaged as a group than they were before because they saw first-hand things that happened with their kids and the damage done to them. They want more involvement and we must advocate for that.”
Inflation:   “I think I’ve done probably the most important thing that we could do, and that was to eliminate the sales tax on food. We have a six-and-a-half percent sales tax on food, which is the highest in the country. That is immoral. I proposed to eliminate the sales tax all at once, should have been effective July 1, it wasn’t, a little game-playing going on, a little politics being played, but I will propose another immediate elimination of our food tax when the legislature comes back to town,” Kelly said. During her rebuttal, Kelly said, “I’ve always prided myself on my fiscal responsibility, I have vetoed bills that have come to my desk that would have spiraled us right back into the Brownback era.” She was referring to the food sales tax reduction bills mentioned by Schmidt in his response to the debate question. “We have also cut $1 billion in taxes for the Kansas citizens over the period of time that I have been governor.”Inflation   “What should have happened is the sales tax on food in Kansas ought to be half what it is and it ought to be half-to-zero come January. That’s where it would have been if the governor simply would have signed in 2019 the food sales tax reduction bills that the legislature put on her desk,” Schmidt said. “But we are, nonetheless, where we are, and the question is going forward. I think going forward there are two things we have to focus on. One is additional relief on the tax side, things we can do. We have proposed on our side, for example in our campaign, something called retire tax-free to help seniors in particular deal with the costs of living and retirement. We also have to focus on costs. For the past four years, the state of Kansas has spent more money at a faster pace than ever before in the history of the state, and those bills will make the problem worse.” During his final words, Schmidt said, “Many of those tax cuts were initiated by Republicans in the legislature, and because the governor was in office she signed them which is fortuitous that she would sign this one. She should have signed the bill in 2019 and every time the governor points out the 2019 bill and how she found it unfortunate and problematic, it reminds me that every provision in that bill that she vetoed twice became law prior to now other than the food sales tax reduction. The only thing her veto stopped in 2019 was having the food sales tax half its rate today and on its way to zero.”
Abortion   “I think we saw on Aug. 2 the overwhelming majority of Kansans believe that a woman’s right to make private medical decisions should rest with her and not with politicians,” Kelly said. “I think they saw that amendment as serious government overreach. I believe, and always have, that a woman’s medical decisions should be made between her, her family, and her doctor, and that women should have bodily autonomy equal to that of men.”Abortion   “I am pro-life” Derek Schmidt said. “I would prefer a Kansas that has fewer abortions, not more. Obviously Kansas voters spoke to a portion of this issue in August and made the decision that any state involvement in this area is going to have to satisfy judicial scrutiny, and we have to respect that decision going forward. I do believe that, going forward, the biggest challenge will be in defending those limitations and restrictions that are already on the books. I believe they will be subject to legal challenge and I am committed to defending them going forward. The governor has made no such commitment. In fact, her views on this as much as I can tell are far out of the mainstream. I have yet to hear her articulate any restriction on access to abortion that she would support. In fact, she voted against every one that came before her when she was in the state senate and vetoed every one that landed on her desk since she’s been governor.”
Transgender Policies   “I actually played a lot of women’s sports, and I did it pre-Title IX,” Kelly said. “The issue of fairness in women’s sports has always been in the forefront of my mind. I do believe in basic fairness, nobody should have an unfair advantage, but that’s exactly why we have governing bodies like the Kansas State High School Activities Association and the National Collegiate Athletics Association to look at cases on an individual basis, have the facts in front of them and make rulings. Derek’s claim that I support men playing in girls’ sports is just so absurd. It is not happening here in Kansas. We really do need to focus on the issues of true concern to people – our education, our economy, our healthcare access.”Transgender Policies   “I’ve been very clear on my position on this issue,” Schmidt said. “It is a matter of fundamental fairness and I do not think as a  matter of law or policy that people who are biologically male ought to be competing in women’s sports. I think that is counter to the purpose of Title IX. I think that is fundamentally unfair to female athletes, and I think that ought to be the law in the state of Kansas. As I said, I would sign that Fairness of Women’s Sports act into law without hesitation. The scientific community has not yet confirmed that transgender athletes have any advantage over their cisgender peers.
Climate   “I think you know that we landed the Panasonic Electric Battery Factory. That will go a long way to ensuring that we do move to electricity,” Kelly said. “Kansas is uniquely focused to lead the way to expanding renewable energy. We’re strong on wind, solar, biofuel, and now ever hydrogen. When I think about climate change, I really see it as a huge job creation opportunity for our state. We are doing everything in our department of commerce and department of agriculture to ensure that we’re bringing those kinds of companies to our state to further our economy but also to contribute to cleaner energy.”Climate   “I think Kansas is a wonderful place and we don’t want to be more like California,” Schmidt said. I do not think their command-and-control approach is the right way to deal with energy policy. I support an all-of-the-above energy policy.”

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