Republican governor candidate Ed O'Malley sees economic growth as a key to recovery in Kansas.
Republican governor candidate Ed O'Malley looks at the challenges facing the next governor of Kansas with a very matter-of-fact vision.
It's going to take years and years for Kansas to dig its way out of this horrendous fiscal position.
"This will be difficult. It will take tremendous leadership to get us back on solid footing," O'Malley said. "Give this job to someone who cares about Kansas."
He applauds the efforts of the 2017 Legislature that overrode Gov. Brownback's tax cut plan. If the state had better leadership in 2012, it would not be in this situation, O'Malley said.
But with the changes the Legislature put in place, some improvement is already happening. Revenues are above estimates. The state is not in as dire a situation as it would be if this legislation had not passed.
The governor cannot take on this task alone. He has to mobilize the right people to solve this tough problem. When O'Malley was a state representative during Gov. Bill Graves years in office, he saw graves display true leadership and that's what he wants to do now.
When O'Malley had exploratory meetings when he was deciding if he would run for governor, three questions needed to be answered: What makes progress difficult; What does the state need from the next governor; What do we need from the rest of us.
Kansas needs to find its strengths and then determine how to leverage those strengths.
From these questions, O'Malley established three goals.
Grow the economy by creating the best education system in Kansas. The current education system is good but it needs to be the best. Kansas needs a bold vision to make that happen.
Kansas needs to transform the way government operates. The Legislature can't keep asking people to do more with less, they can't keep taking funds from the Kansas Department of Transportation and delaying projects that would improve our infrastructure and the foster care system needs revamped after losing 70 children and doesn't know where they are located.
In a Republican dominated state, if the state were run like a business then we're running a bad business, O'Malley said.
Kansas needs leadership that fosters progress. Democrats, Republicans and Independents need to come to a consensus for progress and O'Malley said with his background, he could sit down with these groups and they could create solutions.
"I've got to reach out and build a big coalition," O'Malley said. "We need to dream a little big."
Besides creating the best education possible, the state also needs to focus on the infrastructure and get it right.
Kansas also needs to have much better broadband service. So much in the business world depends on the Internet. In order for businesses to grow, Kansas has got to develop broadband capabilities so businesses can compete.
There has been a breakdown between urban and rural areas. Kansas needs to have better understanding between the two to make Kansas thrive.
O'Malley wants Kansas to continue developing more energy sources. While oil and gas will still be a vital part of the state's economy, Kansas needs to expand its energy portfolio. Kansas is in the top three states for wind energy development and is tops for potential solar development.
"We've got the wind. Let's use it," O'Malley said.
O'Malley said he has the track record necessary to be the leader Kansas needs. He developed the Kansas Leadership Center and will use those leadership skills to solve problems. He said he knows how to mobilize people to solve problems.
In medicine, O'Malley wants Kansas to expand Medicaid. The state is already paying for it so they should get the benefits.
"What health care services do we want all Kansas to have and how do we afford it," O'Malley said.
O'Malley was a state representative when Bill Graves was governor from 1995 to 2003. He served two terms and had been elected to a third when he stepped down to start the Kansas Leadership Center where he traveled a lot, talking about what it takes for effective leadership.