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Press Release: KSGOP State of State Response

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    
January 11, 2022 

Kansas Republican Party Responds to
Gov. Kelly’s State of the State

Calls her speech and recent activity a “desperate election-year transformation”

TOPEKA, KS – The Kansas Republican Party today issued the following statement in response to Governor Laura Kelly’s State of the State address:
“After years of lockdowns, mandates, school closures, and criminalizing religious worship while protecting abortion clinics, Governor Kelly has determined her path to re-election is a complete political transformation,” said Shannon Pahls, Kansas GOP Executive Director.

“Her strategy is flawed because Kansans aren’t easily fooled and they don’t easily forget. Kansas families are still picking up the pieces after her lockdowns destroyed one-third of all small businesses and the paychecks they delivered. Kansas parents are worried for their children, who have fallen behind academically, emotionally, and socially after a year or more of remote learning and mandatory masking. Her desperate election-year transformation can’t change the reality Kansas families are dealing with tonight as a result of her failures, and that’s why our state is ready for a change.”

In addition to the above comment, see Speaker Ron Ryckman’s Response HERE

Background on Governor Kelly’s Election Year Transformation: 
BIPARTISANSHIP: Governor Kelly is in the midst of a total election year transformation, hoping Kansans will forget her actual track record. In reality, her term has been nearly indistinguishable from other liberal Democrat governors from California to Michigan. Last year, she continuously opposed commonsense bills coming out of the Republican-led Legislature, vetoing a record number of eight bills – the most since 2004 – including:

  • The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act 
  • Legislation to improve civics education
  • Tax relief spurring economic development in Kansas
  • Election integrity measures 
  • Conceal and carry reforms

COVID MANDATES: Governor Kelly operated as a lockdown and mandate governor throughout the COVID pandemic, even attempting to criminalize attending religious gatherings on Easter Sunday in 2020. She continued to issue statewide mask mandates into the spring of 2021 before she was eventually overruled by the Republican-led Legislature. Her epiphany on opposing government COVID mandates happened to come a mere 36 hours after her party lost the Virginia governor’s race. Now, that she’s in the midst of trying to save her own job, she’s hoping Kansans will forget that her lockdown policies killed thousands of Kansas jobs and small businesses. Spoiler alert: they won’t. 

ECONOMY & JOBS: Governor Kelly and Lieutenant Governor David Toland want Kansans to believe 2020 was a “blockbuster year” for our state and that our economy is thriving under their leadership. In reality, their administration’s lockdowns killed a third of small businesses and nearly half of restaurants and hotels in the state. Under their leadership, Kansas ranked among the top ten most moved-out-of-states in 2020 and is one of only 17 states to lose population to start this decade. For those who still live here, Kansas continues to rank in the bottom half of the country in pandemic job recovery. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Governor Kelly continues to try and take credit for economic development spurred by the pro-growth, pro-business, pro-family tax relief she vetoed multiple times in 2021 before Republicans in the Legislature overrode her. Taking the wrong position on an issue, being overridden by the Legislature, and then taking credit for the eventual success continues to be a hallmark of Kelly’s governorship and the centerpiece of her re-election campaign. 

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: Governor Kelly claims to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars, but in reality, Kelly’s Department of Labor squandered $700 million to fraudsters overseas while unemployed Kansans (because of her lockdowns) couldn’t get through to obtain the benefits they needed to pay bills. 

FOOD TAX: Governor Kelly is making yet another campaign promise to cut the food sales tax, but despite making similar campaign promises before she was elected, she ultimately vetoed a GOP bill to reduce taxes on groceries for Kansas families in 2019. She also hopes Kansans forget that she’s responsible for a portion of their high tax burden in the first place, having voted for the largest increase in sales taxes in state history in 2010 as a state senator. In fact, she only proposed her ‘axe the food tax’ plan in November days after Attorney General Schmidt called on the Legislature to reduce or eliminate the sales tax on groceries. Kelly campaigns one way on the food tax and governs the exact opposite. 

$250 REBATE: Governor Kelly is proposing a one-time election-year tax rebate solely designed to win votes, but in 2021 she vetoed a $500 increase in the standard deduction for Kansas tax filers that would have provided greater relief to Kansans in the long term. Kelly is once again trying to repackage a proposal from the Republican-led Kansas Legislature that she’s previously rejected in order to trick Kansans and salvage her re-election. 

IN-PERSON LEARNING: Governor Kelly claims to be a pro-education governor, but in reality, she is a pro-NEA governor. Kelly is completely beholden to the whims of teachers’ unions who are funding her re-election effort and continue to push remote learning – despite ample data showing its harmful effects and the extremely low risk to children posed by COVID-19. She was the first governor in the country to shut down in-person learning in March 2020 and she even tried to block in-person learning in the fall of 2020 (despite the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommending in-person learning by June 2020). Kelly’s remote learning plan was eventually overridden by the state school board.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY: Governor Kelly has dismissed parents’ legitimate concerns about critical race theory and other political indoctrination in Kansas schools as a “nothing burger.” In doing so, and in failing to mention the issue in her speech tonight, Kelly continues to kowtow to her campaign benefactors at the NEA, who support attacking parents that oppose CRT in schools. Parents’ concerns are real, and they matter. Kelly’s insistence that they aren’t real is yet another example of Laura Kelly’s re-election strategy centering around insulting the intelligence of Kansas voters.