Good evening and welcome back to the Senate House here in the Kansas State Capitol where I am proud to serve as President and where I am honored to deliver the Republican response.
First, I want you all to be aware that this “response” needed to be pre-recorded, so my remarks are clearly not in response to the governor’s speech, but a Republican response to elements of his agenda that we are aware of.
In 2022, Republicans learned a hard lesson about how divided houses inevitably fall, resulting in the Governor winning another term with less than 50 percent of the vote – while we acknowledge this achievement, we also celebrate that a true majority elected Republicans in every other sitting state and to super majorities in the House and Senate. These findings reveal a simple truth: Neither side can work from where they want to be, but where we are.
As the legislative session began, I joined our new Speaker of the House Dan Hawkins and Republican super majorities in revealing our vision entitled A Better Way – Our Commitment to Kansas. It includes priorities from reducing taxes and empowering parents, to creating jobs and protecting freedom.
During the campaign, the governor repeatedly claimed to rule from the center and scored many victories. Of course, the divided nature of our government means that any bill that reaches the governor’s desk does so only with Republican effort and every meaningful win — whether it’s to cut a tax, balance a budget, or bring about new economic development. in Kansas, it all started with the Republicans. Regardless of who tries to take credit, I’m optimistic that we will find more common ground.
For example, I was pleasantly surprised when the governor recently announced his support for Republican proposals to reduce the pension tax burden. I believe we can work with her to implement these ideas along with the structural reform that is key to keeping Kansas competitive. Republicans want to make taxes lower and flatter and simpler, so when we send a bill to the governor’s desk that does all of that, I’m confident he’ll meet us in the middle and sign it.
Let’s be completely honest, when it comes to budgets, it hasn’t been a great accomplishment for any of us to “balance” a budget with hundreds of millions of printed federal dollars flooding into the system. But with most economists predicting a recession, due to the Biden administration’s disastrous policies, we hope to work with the governor to ensure our state remains on solid footing. That means setting aside enough resources for that rainy day and continuing to pay off debts, just like your family would. We must remain fiscally responsible and resist the considerable temptation to overspend and grow government. Let’s hope the governor will meet us there too.
While we are hopeful about opportunities to work together, there is no doubt that significant differences remain. On many issues, the governor’s party drives her down the far left lane, if not the ditch outside that. With how many times we’ve heard her tell us she’s in-between this session, we’ll be giving her ample opportunity to prove that she really meant it.
When it comes to education, Republicans will focus on students, not legacy systems, which means expanding educational opportunities for all of our children and ensuring parents are ultimately in control. We want a high-quality classical education that focuses on academic excellence, preparing our children for successful futures, not the sexualized sexual agenda we see permeating the system today.
The sad reality is that his party remains tied to the public union leadership, which fears and resists parents who have any form of school choice, wanting only a blank check in their system. This path is leading our schools to become little more than factories for a radical social agenda. This is why she vetoed the Bill of Parental Rights, but we’ll give her another chance in this session. If you are indeed in the middle of the street, you will stand up to the radical elements in your party and sign the bill.
Republicans also celebrate women’s sports and recognize that to ensure a level playing field for all who compete, biological men should not compete in women’s sports. It has nothing to do with sexuality or gender, it’s simply about fairness and science — it’s for the same reason we divide athletes into weight classes or separate varsity from varsity junior. The governor said in an announcement that he “of course” agreed with this, but vetoed the bill twice. In this session, we will give you a third opportunity to demonstrate that your words have meaning.
Republicans support healthcare freedom and expanding access to affordable care through transparency of costs, more competition, and less government regulation of consumer choices—all of which can be done while preserving a network of security for those in our society who are most vulnerable. Unfortunately, the governor’s party remains focused almost exclusively on government-run health care, which would greatly expand the administrative state and hurt the very people the Medicaid safety net was intended for.
Republicans support an “all of the above” energy policy — which includes gas, coal and nuclear — which is needed to reduce utility bills and, most importantly, provide reliable heating and cooling for the Kansans in extreme weather. Democrats are increasingly linked to climate activists who would set us back decades and put our citizens and our economy at risk; an agenda that by its nature opposes American energy independence. Our hope is that the governor will once again stand up to the extreme elements of his party and work with us to reduce user rates and protect our economy.
Republicans will always uphold a culture of life. We wish to reduce the number of abortions by promoting adoption, expanding the availability of crisis pregnancy centers, and preserving our common sense protections currently under the law, all currently under attack. In stark contrast, the governor’s party remains devoted to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, allowing the most inhumane procedures right up to the moment of birth, and beyond.
Finally, Republicans stand by our constitution, which means that, even in the most difficult times, we should not pass any law that restricts our freedom of speech or our freedom of assembly, or prohibits our free exercise of religion, and while preserving all other laws clearly listed constitutional rights; Democrats increasingly believe that such rights are subordinated to the administrative state in order to create a false sense of security. If the governor is truly moderate, he will side with us and the constitution we are all sworn to uphold.
As Republicans, we are committed to putting you, our fellow Kansans, first. For now, we will take the governor, who will rule from the center, at his word, extend a helping hand, and enter this session with high hopes. You rightly expect us to deliver results, not rhetoric, and work together to improve the lives of the people we represent. This is our commitment to you.
God bless you and your family and God bless the great state of Kansas.
Thanks for the attention.