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Challenger For Kansas Governor, Paul Davis Talks Education, Taxes

Beth Lipoff

Taxes, public schools and energy are just three of the issues on the radar for the contentious governor's race in Kansas.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, gubernatorial challenger Paul Davis joined Steve Kraske in the studio for a discussion about his campaign. Gov. Sam Brownback declined to appear, citing scheduling conflicts.

Davis addressed the credit rating downgrades Kansas has faced in the last year.

"I think it sends a very strong message across the country and even internationally that this is a state that doesn’t have its act together in terms of being financially responsible," Davis said. "And when businesses are looking in a very competitive environment out there those kinds of factors are going to hurt our state."

On the issue of schools, Davis said he was in favor of a measure Brownback approved from a coalition of legislators to secure the teachers' retirement system. However, he doesn't like how Brownback has characterized it.

"The governor tries to count those (pension) dollars as dollars that he’s put into the classroom... these are clearly not dollars that are going into the classroom," Davis said.

For school funding, Davis disapproves of cuts from the Brownback administration that Davis said are supporting the income tax cuts. He'd like to reverse those cuts to give schools the funding they used to have, but he's not planning to "throw a ton of money at it" that wasn't there previously.

He'd also like to see Medicaid expanded and have the money connected to that expansion come into the state. Davis said that economic boost to healthcare from federal dollars is especially important to rural area of Kansas, where some hospitals are facing closure. 

"Having a hospital in a rural community is a big deal," he said." You take the hospital out of the community, and that community is going to have a very difficult time surviving."

That doesn't mean Davis likes every aspect of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

"There’s plenty of things about Obamacare not to like, but you have to look at this issue and see what’s best for the state and not play politics with it," Davis said.

Some of his ideas may be a hard sell with the Republican congress in Kansas, but Davis said he's prepared to work with these legislators in the spirit of compromise.

"I’m going to try to engage Republicans from all ilks to be able to try to work on the issues that I think are confronting the state," Davis said. "I’ve got a very inclusive approach to trying to work with people, trying to build consensus."

When it comes to building the coal-fired electric power plant in Holcomb, Kan., Davis didn't support the idea when he was in the legislature. The plans went forth, and if he's elected, he's decided to let it be.

"When you come into office, you inherit some things from the past administration… the permit has been issued, and I’m not going to try to undo that permit," he said.

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