By Maddie Bruegger, The Circuit
On Saturday, Feb. 10, Gov. Jeff Colyer visited Daylight Donuts in Atchison, KS.
He spoke with citizens regarding his vision for the state of Kansas and his policy plans within his first few weeks in office.
“I want Kansas to be a dynamic place where young people see their future in our state; I think there are great things we can build on.”
On Jan. 31, Jeff Colyer was inaugurated as Kansas’ 47th Governor, replacing Sam Brownback.
Brownback was narrowly appointed as the international religious freedom ambassador in a 49-49 split-vote with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding and appointing vote.
Former Gov. Sam Brownback was nominated during the summer, but was not appointed to the position officially until January 2018. This gave Former Lt. Gov. Colyer over six months of preparation for his new position as governor.
“There are some that say Kansas is in an unwinnable situation, that everything is broken,” Colyer said in his inauguration speech.
“Yes, it is challenging; it has always been challenging in Kansas. But the great secret of the Kansas soul is that we believe in service and we believe in in each other. It’s time for a new tone that reflects the best of our state.”
Colyer immediately faces policy challenges such as Brownback’s former tax plan that the legislature overturned and the Supreme Court’s ruling on educational funding.
“I think we have a diverse type of education system, Benedictine, for one, KU, Fort Hays, a variety of places,” Colyer said.
“We’re going to help them move forward; we have some tough choices to make, but that is a priority.”
With the legislature in session, Colyer anticipates a busy schedule ahead for his staff.
“My schedule is going to look a lot more like a surgeon’s than a politician’s, so don’t be surprised by an 80 or 100-hour work week,” Colyer said.
Colyer grew up in Hays, Kan., worked for Ronald Regan and is a practicing doctor. He attributes this background to the implementation of his core principles.
While in office, Colyer plans to commit time to continue his practice while also performing the duties of Governor.
“I believe every life is sacred,” Colyer said. “I commit to serving and treating every Kansan with the dignity and respect you deserve. As I doctor, I will always level with you. I demand transparency.”
With recent sexual harassment cases flooding political, entertainment and sports platforms, Colyer desires that same transparency in the Kansas Capitol as well.
“We will set a tone and insist on an environment of openness, honesty and respect and without harassment, especially in this building,” Colyer said.
This tone was officially set on Feb. 5 as Colyer signed his first executive order. The order mandates sexual harassment prevention training for executive-branch employees and requires state agencies to update sexual harassment policies every three years. This was signed in the hopes for agencies to review and update policies and further prevent sexual harassment within the workplace.
Colyer believes it is time for a new day in Kansas, a day that is very distinct from the federal government.
“When others blame and play, I will be busy working for you, trying to find solutions,” Colyer said. “I will not be responsible for shutting down Kansas government or our schools. This is not Washington.”
On the night of Feb. 8 into the morning of Feb. 9, the federal government shut down for six hours. However, on the morning of Feb. 9, Trump signed a $400 billion spending bill, ending the shutdown.
“He could’ve just let [DACA] continue as a program, but he decided for a combination of reasons, probably mostly political, to interrupt that program,” said Dr. John Settich, professor and chair of the Political Science Department. “It looks like they are adopting a budget deal instead of a solution to the problem.”
While Colyer promises to not shutdown the Kansas Capitol, federal government shutdowns still affect American workers through programs operated by both the state and federal government, including Medicaid and comprehensive health insurance programs for children.
“We will not compromise long-term outcomes for short-term political gains,” Colyer said, referring to his policy plans for the state of Kansas.
With listening, service and transparency at the heart of Colyer’s inauguration speech, he has a little under ten months to act as Governor before the next election.
“Colyer has got to play good policy and good politics at the same time,” Settich said. “Every day he is there acting and looking like the Governor, he is going to be differentiated from these other people who seem to be crass politicians running for his job.”
The national election day is Nov. 6, 2018.
“Today is a new day in Kansas,” Colyer said on his first day in office.