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Democrats Dismiss Raising Taxes During Gubernatorial Forum

Mark Statzer

The Democrats running to be Kansas’ next governor brushed off the idea of a tax increase to cover the state’s needs during a Democratic forum in Wichita on Wednesday night sponsored by KMUW and KWCH.

State Sen. Laura Kelly said it’s too soon after repealing the Sam Brownback-era tax cuts to talk about a tax increase.

“We need to let the dust settle,” Kelly said. "We have no idea the full impact of that or the full impact of the federal tax cuts that have occurred."

Former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer was clear that he doesn't support a tax increase.

“Tax increase is the last thing that we should even be looking at here in the state of Kansas,” Brewer said.

Former Kansas Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty went a step further by talking about a tax cut.

“I would advocate for lowering the sales tax on food,” Svaty said.

Brewer and Svaty agreed that the focus should instead be on increasing state revenue by improving the Kansas economy.

Jack Bergeson, one of the teenage candidates running for governor, spent much of the evening targeting Kelly and her running mate, Lynn Rogers, as the establishment ticket. Bergeson directed those who didn’t want to vote for him to vote for anyone on stage other than Kelly.

“If you care about health care reform in this state you should not vote for Laura Kelly and Lynn Rogers,” Bergeson said. “Regardless of who you vote for, the three other candidates are a much better choice.”

Health care reform was Olathe physician Arden Andersen’s topic of choice. He said that his experience in the medical field made him the most qualified for improving care and cost.

“We need to overhaul that system,” Andersen said. “We need people who actually have answers, not just guessing about what does or doesn’t work. I’m that person."

The debate also focused on legalizing marijuana, gun safety, tariffs and how to win the election as a Democrat in Kansas.

Stephan Bisaha, based at KMUW in Wichita, is an education reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @SteveBisaha. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.