Kansas House Has New Speaker

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The Kansas House of Representatives is expected to ratify a new Speaker of the House when they convene on January 12th.

Republicans in the Kansas House chose Michael (Mike) O'Neil of Hutchinson as their new speaker. He will replace Rep. Melvin Neufeld of Ingalls. The vote was very close with republicans and representatives-elect giving 41 votes to O'Neal and 36 to Neufeld.

Speaker Neufeld said he was surprised by the outcome but the speaker-elect said he suspected it.

"I've been working on this for about six months counting votes pretty carefully and I knew that I had the votes, so it was not unexpected. It's just gratifying to finally have that validated; what you've been doing for the last six months. I'm very humbled by being selected and it's something I've been striving for and I'll give it my very best," said Speaker-elect Michael O'Neal.

O'Neal says he has very clear goals for his new position and the first item on his agenda will be the budget.

"We've got a huge budget challenge facing us. I've been here 24 years and this is the worst we've ever had. It's going to take all of us working together and the main thing is to make sure everybody gets informed on the things they're going to vote on. We're going to have to make some hard choices and I want those choices to be informed choices and the best choices that we have given the circumstances," said O'Neal.

Meanwhile, Speaker Neufeld says he also has clear goals for the future.

"My immediate goal is to make a smooth transition to the new speaker," said Neufeld.

To hear more click on the video icon at the top of this story.