Once again Thursday night voters heard from two Republican candidates who take widely different approaches to issues facing Kansas. This time it was Rep. Stephanie Clayton and her challenger in the August primary for the District 19 seat in the Kansas House, Jennifer Flood.
Wednesday night, incumbent Barbara Bollier and Neil Melton displayed a similar divide on the same topics. Among the few places where Clayton and Flood displayed a high level of agreement was on support for early childhood education and maintaining incentives for businesses moving to Kansas.
Flood invoked the name of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on a number of occasions, supporting his policies. Clayton’s only articulated agreement with the governor was on border war economics where she sees “eye-to-eye” with Brownback.
On guns, education funding, tax structure, due process and judicial appointments, the candidates took different approaches:
- Tax cuts – Flood said lower revenue is not a bad thing. The lower revenue, expected because of the tax cuts, means the state needs to spend less. Traditionally, the three-legged tax stool has been income, property and sales. Brownback, she said, wants a stronger two legs. “When you are in a hole, stop digging,” Clayton said. She said the state should “press pause” on the tax cuts and re-evaluate.
- Kansas Supreme Court appointments – Flood wants to give the governor the power to appoint. Clayton opposes changing the system.
- Guns – Clayton said the law that negated the Prairie Village open carry ban violates the state constitution. Businesses, she said are put in the difficult position of making individual decisions which will alienate some customers. Flood said the Second Amendment is clear and cities can’t make exceptions. The intent of the governor, she said, was to make the laws consistent across the state.
- Due process – Due process is not a right, Flood said, and the state should not favor any one group of employees. She also opposes collective bargaining for teachers. Clayton voted against the bill that removed state-mandated due process for teachers and said she was pleased Shawnee Mission kept due process in its teacher contract.
- Corporate tax credits for private schools – Clayton opposed the tax credit plan. Flood said corporations should be able to step in and help.
- Economy in Johnson County – Clayton said the legislature could help the business climate by refraining from passing laws that are an embarrassment and to stop making cuts that are harmful to quality of life. Flood said regulations that harm business should be examined.
- Disability waiting lists – Flood said assistance funds are going to able-bodied people who don’t need the money as much and those dollars should be reallocated. Clayton said the legislature needs to take responsibility and noted the loss of the mortgage tax will stress county services and affect funding for services to the disabled.
The forum was sponsored by the Johnson County League of Women Voters. Prairie Village Post participated on the panel.