Education and agriculture are priorities for Jim Barnett, Republican candidate for Governor.

Kansas faces a perfect storm that has long term consequences for the state. Jim Barnett, Republican candidate for governor, said the combination of high property taxes combined with low oil, gas and crop prices has put Kansas farmers in danger of losing their land.

"Agriculture is my top issue," Barnett said in a recent visit to Pratt.

Kansas farmers need to diversify to maintain their profitability. The increase in cotton production is an example of how farmers are looking at other crops to strengthen their income.

Another crop Barnett would like developed is hemp. It can be an important value added crop for Kansas agriculture. He also wants to see machinery production to handle hemp production. Landoll in Marysville has the capability to produce that equipment and that's exciting, Barnett said.

A business in Scott City is producing gluten free flour made from sorghum and selling the flour to Kellogg's. More businesses, like the one in Scott City, are needed to help keep Kansas strong.

Barnett said another Kansas product could be pop milo that is used in health bars but it would support to make it a success in Kansas.

The next governor needs to promote Kansas and Kansas products, especially grain crops. Topeka needs to have more people dedicated to promoting Kansas.

A recent bill passed in the Kansas Legislature that would provide around $525 million for schools. But there was an $80 million error of a failure to carry money forward that should have passed from the last session to this session. There was also no index for inflation in the bill.

There is also no dedicated stream of revenue to support the bill.

"It's unfair to present a budget that can't be funded," Barnett said.

The state has to look at other sources of revenue. Barnett said sales tax on Internet purchases would be an important source of revenue. The lack of tax on Internet sales is unfair to brick and mortar stores and is killing main street in Kansas.

"Internet sales tax is the first place to look," Barnett said.

There are some 50,000 open jobs in Kansas and education is key to filling those jobs. Increasing the work force is critical and he wants to focus on raising more tax payers, Barnett said.

Kansas is at a critical crossroads and leadership has to change.

"We have to pivot or we'll never see Kansas like it was in the past," Barnett said.

Barnett served on the Emporia school board for eight years, four as president. He served in the Kansas Senator for 10 years. He is a doctor and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Kansas Medical Society.

He is married to Rosie and they have two grown children Blake and Chelsea. He currently resides in Topeka.

@GaleR_Tribune