GIRARD — Crawford County residents had the opportunity to ask questions about the Kansas Legislature on Saturday.
During a breakfast hosted by Girard FFA and Crawford County Farm Bureau the residents spoke to Representative Monica Murnan (D-Pittsburg), Representative Adam Lusker (D-Frontenac) and Senator Richard Hilderbrand (R-Baxter Springs.)
One of the questions from the crowd was if there were going to be any more changes of heads of departments in the administration.
Lusker said he doesn’t expect to see to many more changes after the recent secretary appointments.
Murnan agreed and said there have been significant changes within the administration in the past six weeks.
“The changes that we have seen in agency heads, to me, there has been a debacle in that process,” she said. “And we also we have violated many, many federal regulations as a state in that process.
“I’ve seen in the last six weeks significant steps to improve both of those very serious systems of care … it’s going to take a lot of time unfortunately, some of our most vulnerable populations are caught in the cross hairs here.”
Lusker, Murnan and Hilderbrand spoke about how communication with new governor Jeff Colyer, has improved along with these changes.
“This governor has taken initiative to reach out to legislators,” Hilderbrand said.
Another question was related to education and the budget, with concerns for property owners.
In response, Lusker explained how local taxpayers took the burden to pay for education and now a statewide formula has benefited school districts by “taking money from more affluent areas,” he said, and each district will at receive at least 20 mils.
Someone asked about the high uninsured rate and expansion of Medicaid in Kansas.
Lusker said discussion about the Affordable Care Act is not going away and legislators will continue to bring discussion on ACA.
Hilderbrand said ACA was passed in part by cutting reimbursement rates at hospitals in hope that medicaid expansion would pick up and generate more revenue. He said the 32 states which has implemented the expansion “have overspent unfortunately.”
“We as Kansas have to look at — if we are going to expand something — what are we doing right now?” he said.
Murnan said she doesn't agree with Hilderbrand, she said she respects his opinion but it’s “two pots of money, two different issues,” she said.
“We believe that the 180,000 Kansans … have the right to have health care — basic health care,” Murnan said. “I do not know how much longer we are going to have the conversation and face ourselves in the mirror when we know a woman in Girard with no insurance coverage is going to have an easy time finding out she has breast cancer because there are options, but what she’s going to have a hard time with is finding a surgeon to take it out of her and that is not right.”
Another community member asked about the lack of funding for mental health, referring to the shooting in Florida.
“This isn’t part or piece of any one policy,” Murnan said.
All three panel members agreed it wasn't a single policy issue, but several policy issues across the board and because of this, there isn’t a clear answer, Lusker said. Hilderbrand in particular said it all boiled down to the “culture of hate.”
“I don’t know what the answer is,” Lusker said.
Lusker agreed with Murnan who said everyone needs to come to some sort of consensus and look at the broader picture.
After a statement about Tonganoxie and Tyson Foods from a resident, the panel spoke briefly about how any changes can have an affect on the county, from healthcare to jobs, they said.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.