Kansas needs a proactive economic development strategy that leverages our state’s strengths and addresses regional obstacles to growth.
If we want to protect our way of life, provide for an increasingly dependent population, and create the jobs and opportunities that keep our kids here, we have to approach things very differently. Greg Orman has spent the last 27 years growing businesses and helping them chart a positive path to the future through proactive strategies. Working with cities, counties, and institutions across the state, Greg can build on this experience to grow the Kansas economy by creating the right environment, making the right investments, and eliminating barriers to job creation and economic growth.
It’s the government’s responsibility to create an environment that’s conducive to private sector growth. In order to do so, Kansas needs a proactive economic development strategy that leverages our state’s strengths–geographic location, wind and solar resources, leadership in agriculture–and addresses regional obstacles to growth, while ensuring that corporate, educational and state resources are fully aligned and creating opportunities for Kansas and its citizens.
Developing the state’s workforce is vital to the success of our economy and protecting our quality of life—and we need to focus on all issues keeping parts of the population from being fully engaged in the economy. This will include initiatives such creating better pathways to technical education, including loan funds for certificate programs and support for public/private partnerships in technical education, as well as building a coordinated program to encourage military personnel who serve in Kansas to stay in Kansas.
Finally, Greg will work hard make sure the nation sees the true Kansas—a leader, a state that is welcoming to all, and a place where our children are inspired to build their lives.
Through a combination of ideology, stubbornness, and neglect, the Brownback administration blew a hole in the Kansas budget and threatened the existence of the basic infrastructure all Kansans depend on from our schools to our hospitals, institutions that are the cornerstones of our many communities. This fiscal irresponsibility in pursuit of lower taxes without the commensurate cuts to actual spending resulted in underfunded pensions, depleted transportation trusts funds and attempts to sell assets like the tobacco settlement dollars. This reckless, politically-driven experiment put all of Kansas at risk, making our state a cautionary example for the entire nation.
Greg believes that managing the budget responsibility goes far beyond the simplistic argument that has been focused on how much or how little to spend. The real challenge is balancing the budget in a way that doesn’t mortgage the future to pay for the present. We need to make smart decisions that make the government more efficient and effective. This means evaluating programs through the lens of outcomes and making sure we are measuring results—if something works, we should scale it, and if not, we should move to test something else. The core metric needs to be job creation and the quality of those jobs.
Greg will focus on results for the people of Kansas, results that are sustainable in the context of a changing world where competitive benchmarks are rising daily. He will invest in and reshape our economic engines, creating high-quality jobs that allow our state the freedom to invest in critical resources that preserve our way of life.
The Brownback tax plan was a mistake. It was not the “shot of adrenaline in the arm of the Kansas economy” that Brownback said it would be; as a result, Kansas’ economy has lagged significantly behind neighboring states. Unfortunately, it took the state getting to a point of crisis before the legislature came together to repeal that plan.
The plan led to significant increases in property taxes as the burden to provide services and resources shifted from Topeka to local governments. Many Kansans have told Greg that they are being priced out of their homes as a result of the Brownback tax plan. Farmers feel equally burdened with rising property taxes and lower incomes.
The tax plan was patently unfair. That’s why Greg led and supported the efforts of Save Kansas Coalition—including initiatives like Mainstream Coalition, Reroute the Roadmap, and Women for Kansas—which was instrumental in reclaiming Kansas from further damage.
As Governor, Greg would oppose efforts to rewrite the law pursued toward the end of last legislative session. (This law would redirect additional revenues as a result of federal income tax changes from the state to individuals, largely favoring the wealthiest.) Greg believes we should maintain a stable tax policy until we fully understand the financial impact of repealing the Brownback tax plan and have addressed the funding needs of a number of our agencies that have been starved for resources the past several years.
Greg Orman on Brownback’s legacy: “He will be most remembered for his failed tax policy.”
Greg will work hard to build on the state’s natural advantages and make Kansas a national leader in wind and solar.
We have abundant wind and solar resources. We are currently the fifth leading producer of wind energy in the country, but given our wind resources we could be second only to Texas if we fully leveraged those resources. Likewise, we have abundant sunshine in Western Kansas.
Fully developing these resources, however, will require us to expand markets for renewable electricity. Currently, we have excess renewable power due to the intermittency of wind energy and its location relative to where we demand electricity. The net result of this has been higher energy costs as we continue to pay for renewable energy capacity that isn’t fully utilized. So, the key to optimizing the economic opportunities associated with these resources is to build more demand for it.
To foster this increase in demand, Greg will evaluate creating an interconnect between Kansas and Mountain West to allow us to export renewable energy into Colorado; he will give our electric utilities the freedom to enter into renewable only electric tariffs with their customers; and he will evaluate the creation of massive electric semi recharging stations to reinforce our leadership in transportation and logistics and create demand for off-peak wind energy.
With clean energy, Doll added that southwest Kansas would need to be ahead of the game and be innovative and open up markets.
Kansas should be the distribution and intermodal manufacturing capital of America. We are at the geographic center of the United States at a time when our economy is quickly moving from a brick-and-mortar economy to a digital economy. We’re already seeing some progress in this area, but could dramatically accelerate growth with the right policies. We also have three Class 1 railroads that travel through Kansas—the largest short haul railroad in America is headquartered in Pittsburg. Finally, we have access to low cost manufacturing inputs in the form of agricultural products and renewable energy.
To leverage this geographical strength, Greg will look to add $80 million a year to our infrastructure spending over the next four years. His priorities will include the full expansion of I-69 to 4 lanes and, in southwest Kansas, Hwy 54, 400, and 81 expansion. The state should target funding to regions willing to enter into local regulatory compacts to streamline the permitting process. Kansas has seen the impacts of a state highway fund depleted to pay for the failed Brownback tax plan. Repairs to key infrastructure have been ignored, and new transportation projects that would drive economic expansion have been put on hold. Funding should be protected.
Additionally, we should enter into local regulatory compacts to streamline the permitting and regulatory processes at the local level; and we will establish job functions within the Department of Commerce to specifically recruit internet and manufacturing companies that will clearly benefit from the geographic centrality of Kansas and the other advantages described above.
Orman says to build Great Bend and the rest of Kansas, the state needs to focus on its major strength—distribution
Greg will do everything in his power to help our agriculture sector thrive, including passing legislation that gives farmers the freedom to farm industrial hemp as soon as the federal government changes the law. Allowing farmers the freedom to choose an additional cash crop makes all the sense in the world.
Industrial hemp uses half the water of wheat, producing significantly more profit per acre, and has thousands of uses including the production of paper, textiles, and construction materials. Senator John Doll has been a leading advocate for giving farmers the freedom to farm industrial hemp. As federal law evolves to allow for the commercial production of hemp, Kansas needs to be a leader in creating tools that allow us to quickly capitalize on this opportunity: production facilities for hemp-based products will be built to accommodate this anticipated change in federal law—Greg wants to ensure that many of those facilities get built in Kansas.