TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH) New Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly is telling Kansas legislators that the state faces an emergency in its child welfare system and is "completely unprepared" for the next national economic downturn.
Kelly outlined an agenda Wednesday evening for the Republican-dominated Legislature that includes increased spending on public schools and expanding the state's Medicaid health coverage for the needy.
She also told lawmakers that she will honor her pledge to balance the budget without raising taxes.
Her first State of the State address sets up a clash with top Republicans. She did not mention their top priority, an income tax cut.
Kelly's tough tone was the most notable element of her address to a joint session of the House and Senate. She declared, "I was elected to rebuild our state."
Senate President Susan Wagle delivered the rebuttal to Kelly's address. Wagle Wagle contends Kelly is setting a course for the state that will "squander our fiscal recovery."
The conservative Wichita Republican gave the official GOP response Wednesday to Kelly's first State of the State address.
Kelly's priorities include boosting spending on public schools and expanding the state's Medicaid health coverage for the needy. She is on a collision course with top Republicans because they want to cut state income taxes.
Wagle said the GOP wants to cut taxes so that some Kansas residents don't pay more to the state because of federal income tax changes at the end of 2017.
She also said Kelly wants to merely "surrender to the edicts" of the Kansas Supreme Court in an education funding lawsuit.