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Legislative Candidates Discuss Early Childhood Priorities At Forum

Sarah Gilbert

Sedgwick County legislative candidates Thursday took questions about early childhood policy and priorities at a forum hosted by the Sedgwick County Early Childhood Coordinating Council.

Sixteen candidates attended the forum on the Heartspring campus in east Wichita. They answered questions on preschool standards, child abuse prevention, childcare costs, early intervention, funding and health care.

Kansas senate candidate in district 27, Dr. Diana Cubbage, told attendees the provision in Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax plan that includes the repeal of the child and dependent care tax credit needs to be reinstated if the state wants to support workers and sustain businesses.

“And I would ask you to compare that with the other kinds of entitlements that we have seemingly supported to allow people with money to deduct from their taxes,” said Cubbage. “Yet we cannot allow our people to deduct childcare – one of the most important things that we do."

Early on in the program Representative Gail Finney drew attention to the lack of diversity on the panel.

“Forgive me, but I also have to mention, I was wondering if this is just a democratic forum,” she asked rhetorically. “In case some of you don’t know, we are all Democrats.”

Michelle Eastman of the Sedgwick County Early Childhood Coordinating Council said invitations were sent to all Kansas house and senate candidates in the county.