Where does Jerry Stand?
I believe my constituents should not have to rely on political platitudes in trying to determine my stand on issues. I am providing a short and concise answer to the important questions facing the citizens of the 21st District and a detailed rationale for those wanting to know how I arrived at those answers. I know it is unusual for a politician to provide direct, comprehensive and detailed answers to questions, free of political misdirection, but, when you vote for me I want it to be an informed vote that you can support as together we address these critical issues.
Do you think the State of Kansas is funding public education adequately? NO
Kansas is definitely NOT funding public education adequately or equitably. If this is allowed to continue, it will detrimentally affect the futures of our children, the values of our homes, and the economy of our state. Kansas’ economic situation will not improve until we reverse the state’s 2012 tax cuts and replace them with a tax structure providing the funding needed to make our public schools, colleges and universities competitive with those of other states. Investing in public schools and teachers is not only the right thing to do for our children, it is the best thing we can do to protect the economic future of Kansas. Modern businesses, heavily invested in intellectual capital, will not locate in areas with sub-standard public schools, and undervalued and underfunded colleges and universities. Johnson County is a prime example of an area whose prosperity is based in large part on the quality and reputation of its public schools. Kansas will continue to suffer economically, especially in the long term, until it reinstates the funding necessary to maintain a superior, statewide system of public schools.
Should the Legislature be allowed to take or withhold money from KPERS which is earmarked for teacher and public employee retirement payments? NO
A strong and sacrosanct retirement plan is important in helping to attract and retain quality teachers. I would oppose any changes to the basic structure of KPERS. I would oppose any reduction in benefits for current or future KPERS retirees. I would support an appropriate cost of living adjustment for current retirees on a yearly basis. I would support legislation making it illegal to use or “borrow” KPERS funds for any purpose other than teacher retirement payments. I would also support legislation making it illegal to withhold state contributions owed to KPERS.
Do you support leaving the supervision of our educational system under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Education? YES
The citizens of Kansas elected the State Board of Education to oversee and supervise our system of public education in Kansas. I support keeping the State Board of Education as the chief educational oversight organization in Kansas, and support keeping the selection of its members in the hands of the Kansas electorate. Attempts by Governor Brownback and his legislative supporters to weaken and redirect the responsibilities of the State Board of Education are misguided and harmful to our educational institutions. I will fight any attempt to further politicize the Board or to lessen its present duties and responsibilities.
Do you support spending public tax dollars to provide vouchers, scholarships, or tax credits for Kansas students in non-public (private, religious, or home) K-12 schools? NO
I will strongly oppose voucher plans, tuition tax credits, "scholarships" and ANY other legislative effort to divert public tax money from our public schools in order to fund private schools, religious schools, or home schools. Many of our fine religious and private schools provide a quality education for their students, but, taxpayer money is intended to fund public education available to all children regardless of religious affiliation, political persuasion or other special interests. Our public tax revenues are meant to support public education and must be used solely and without exception for that purpose.
Do you support restoring due process rights to K-12 teachers in public schools? YES
Due process should be the right of every American worker, regardless of profession. I will strongly advocate for reinstating due process provisions removed by Governor Brownback and the Republican Legislature. The KEEP program provides a solid basis for fairly assessing teacher performance and for helping both new and experienced teachers succeed. Without due process, teacher assessments can be unfair, biased, or discriminatory, based upon the personal, social or political views of those doing the evaluating. Due process does NOT protect bad teachers, it protects good teachers from administrators or school boards who may wish to unfairly terminate a teacher for issues unrelated to the teacher's professional performance. Due process is a fundamental right for all workers and a major factor in attracting and retaining quality teachers in Kansas classrooms.
Do you support human sexuality education in the public schools? YES
A comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically accurate, human sexuality curriculum in our public schools is essential in keeping our students healthy and sexually responsible. Keeping these programs strong, widespread and properly funded is the responsible thing to do.
Do you believe that the Kansas Supreme Court has the responsibility to ensure that the State is meeting its Constitutional obligation to adequately fund schools? YES
The Kansas Supreme Court most certainly has the responsibility to review the actions and decisions of the Legislature to determine if they fall within the scope of the Kansas Constitution. The Court has determined, rightfully so, that the Legislature is NOT meeting its constitutional obligation to adequately and equitably fund our public schools as required by Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution. As a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, I will support legislation designed to adequately and fairly fund our public schools, colleges and universities and to support the Constitutional independence of the Kansas Supreme Court. I will fight any effort by the Legislative or Executive branch to exceed their Constitutional limits or to impede in any way the duties and responsibilities of the Court. I will support every effort to see that the Court is fully funded, in order to continue to fulfill its Constitutional duties.
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Do you support the trend of less state tax support for its higher education institutions, causing greater reliance on tuition increases? NO
Putting the cost of tuition increasingly on the backs of students, as a way of covering general fund shortfalls in state government, created by the inept mismanagement of government by the Brownback administration, is morally indefensible, educationally detrimental, and economically disastrous. Kansans realize that 21st century companies rarely locate in states that do not produce a well-educated work force. Kansas must explore every possible avenue for reversing spiraling tuition costs, and for making post-secondary education financially possible for every student who seeks a college education. We must also support opportunities for students to attend technical schools, those providing alternative educational opportunities leading to high-paying jobs in the building trades and other industries.
Investing in our community colleges, colleges and universities is not only the right thing to do for our students; it is the economically smart thing to do for the future of Kansas. I will work with stakeholders in private industry, teacher organizations, the leaders of our colleges, universities, and other pro-public education groups to create consensus-based legislation designed to keep our public schools great and our community colleges, colleges and universities world class.
Do you support in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants who graduate from a Kansas high school and are taking steps to obtain U.S. citizenship? YES
ANY young person who has fulfilled the requirements necessary to graduate from a Kansas high school and wants to pursue a college education should be applauded and supported in their efforts to achieve that goal. We should do everything in our power to see that as many of our young people as possible have access to the education they need to become good citizens within our society and productive members of our economy. We should not only support in-state tuition for children on the path to citizenship, we also should provide tuition assistance, post-graduate tuition forgiveness for students entering critical occupations, and any other program that helps produce a well-trained, well informed, productive citizenry.
Would you support the repeal of Governor Brownback's 2012 income tax exemptions for businesses and individuals? YES
I support the repeal of the Governor's 2012 income tax exemptions for businesses and our very wealthiest individuals. I will support a new tax structure that is broad based, that includes ALL segments of the economy, and that eliminates political and financial favoritism for the wealthy elite and special interests who benefit most from the present system. Brownback’s 2012 tax cuts have been implemented at the expense of the middle class, our students, and our most vulnerable citizens. Those 2012 tax cuts were the origin of Kansas’ current economic woes. Brownback’s irresponsible tax cut “experiment” has resulted in an unprecedented economic disaster. A fair and balanced tax structure supported by all segments of the economy will provide the funding necessary for good schools, good roads, needed social services, and economic growth. Business people and the great majority of Kansans in general understand that a fair and balanced tax structure is a critical necessity for strong economic development which will help bring modern businesses and high paying jobs to Kansas.
Do you support a reduction in the present state sales tax which is one of the highest in the nation. YES
The present sales tax on food and other products and services is one of the highest in the nation. It is a regressive tax that places an unfair burden on the middle class and on citizens least able to afford basic necessities for their families. The present sales tax rates should be cut as part of a total overhaul of the tax code in Kansas. Kansans should not have to deny their families proper nutrition based on their inability to afford an inordinately high tax on food.
Should the Legislature be allowed to take money from KDOT funds which are earmarked for road and bridge repair? NO
Robbing the KDOT funds to cover shortfalls in the General Fund, due to the inept mismanagement of government by the present Governor and his conservative followers in the Legislature should be illegal. KDOT funds go to keeping us and our families safe on our roads and bridges along with generating thousands of good paying, highly skilled jobs which help stimulate and sustain our economy. Using those funds to cover financial mismanagement of the general fund puts the safety of Kansans at risk as well as undermining our efforts to re-energize our failing economy.
Should the Legislature pass a bill allowing businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity? NO
Discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity is unacceptable, un-American and should be plainly and without exception illegal. I would strongly oppose any attempt to allow businesses to discriminate against people due to their sexual orientation or gender identification, as well as their race or religious preference.
Do you support accepting federal dollars for Medicaid expansion in Kansas? YES
Accepting federal dollars for Medicaid expansion should be a top priority for the next Legislature. Not accepting such federal help, which has been in part paid for by Kansas taxpayers, has cost the state over one BILLION dollars in much needed revenue, denied adequate health care to thousands of Kansans, and put tremendous and unnecessary strain on our entire health care system. Lack of Medicaid expansion has put some Kansas hospitals out of business, and now threatens to eliminate over two dozen others. This, in turn, has put the lives and well-being of many Kansans at risk. The refusal of the Brownback administration and his legislative supporters to expand Medicaid is not based on sound economic or health care reasons, but on blind allegiance to the partisan politics of the national Republican Party and their stated vow to block any program supported by the President of the United States. Kansans have suffered financially and physically from this unconscionable political pandering. Medicaid expansion is not only good for the Kansas economy; it is the correct and humanitarian thing to do for the people of Kansas.
Kansas has the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. As a legislator, would you support reducing these Restrictions? YES
Abortion decisions should be left in the hands of the women involved, without interference from a meddling state government. Women should be in charge of their own bodies and their own personal health decisions. Abortion decisions should be a personal matter, free of governmental intrusion, and based on the woman's personal beliefs. It should also be her choice whether to seek guidance from her partner, spiritual adviser or medical professional. Women choosing to have an abortion should have access to the best medical care and facilities possible without governmental interference, admonishment or restrictions. Government can best help reduce the number of abortions by providing financial assistance to organizations like Planned Parenthood, which not only provides valuable women's health care services but also provides the educational and contraceptive services that can help women lessen their chances of having to make this very difficult, very personal decision.
Do you support the State Constitution's nonpartisan, merit system for selection of Supreme Court nominees? YES
Governor Brownback and his conservative legislators appear to lack a basic understanding of our constitutional framework, one based upon three INDEPENDENT branches of government, each with a specific set of responsibilities, checks and balances. These independent branches of government, and the system of checks and balances they represent, are the very bedrock of our democracy. This Governor and the current Republican legislature appear to have little understanding of civics and American history. They wish to eliminate judicial oversight of their actions by basing the selection of Supreme Court nominees on partisan politics or by eliminating funding for the judicial branch. I will strongly support the current merit-based system for selecting Kansas’ Supreme Court nominees, in order to maintain political neutrality in our courtrooms.
Should voter registration and participation be made easier in Kansas? YES
Participation in our electoral system should be encouraged and voter registration should be based on easily obtainable, reliable documents, such as a valid driver’s license, which should be sufficient proof of residency and eligibility. The present Secretary of State seems to think voting and voter registration should be based on an exclusionary, politically biased and a difficult registration process aimed at keeping the "wrong" kind of voters from participating in our democracy. I will fight for the rights of all citizens to have easy and legal access to the voting process and for laws that encourage Kansans to fully participate in our right and duty to elect our public officials.
OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Should local communities have the right to control their own policy regarding taxes, guns, etc.? YES
To the greatest extent possible, there should be local control of government. Kansas citizens should be able to direct their local representatives to address education, social, health and other issues that those citizens are willing to authorize and fund. Local municipalities should be able to deal with local issues without being hampered by legislation enacted at the state level on behalf of tax avoiding, politically motivated, or power-seeking special interest groups.