Energy, Education, Health Care Top Governor's Message

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

Touting a new age of "innovation economy," Gov. Kathleen Sebelius Monday outlined her vision for the state.

Her State of the State message focused on growing the economy through commitments to education, health care and energy. Sebelius outlined her vision for the future through the eyes of twins born the day she started her second term a year ago, Kimberlin and Samuel of Mulvane who attended the speech with their parents, Christie and Tom Lovell.

"Let us resolve tonight to create a Kansas in which futures are bright, hopes are realized and our communities safe and secure," Sebelius said.

While it involves joining the search for new fuel sources and reforming health care, Sebelius says it starts with education.

"We must redouble our efforts to educate and train all citizens for jobs in this new marketplace," Sebelius said. "Quality education is essential to a prosperous future."

To spur education, the Governor is proposing a fourth year to the school funding plan that pays for all-day kindergarten, an investment of $27 million. She's also putting $23 million in grants to early childhood education. A couple scholarship programs are also on her wish list, dedicating extra money to scholarships for math, science and technology teaching and for students going to college

To spur economic development, Sebelius issued an executive order creating the Kansas Innovation Consortium. She says it will be a group of business leaders, educators and agency heads who'll work to diversify the economy. Sebelius says rural Kansas continues to be important to economic security, pointing to new rural opportunity offices opening.

In addition, the Governor urged lawmakers to begin work on a new comprehensive transportation program.

"Our ability to move people and goods throughout our state to market is an essential component of future growth," Sebelius said.

In health care, the Governor wants the Health Policy Authority's recommendations passed in full, that includes a tobacco tax hike - although she did not mention that specifically in her speech. She also includes funding to get KU Medical a National Cancer Institute designation and to expand the KU School of Pharmacy.

In the area of energy, Sebelius wants to create a Bioenergy Research Grant program for developing new technologies for producing renewable fuels. She's also setting a goal of producing 20-percent of the nation's alternative fuel needs and continuing development of wind energy. Sebelius also touted conservation, saying the cheapest and cleanest energy is that which we don't use in the first place.

Many of the proposals Sebelius outlined will be introduced to lawmakers through her budget. The budget itself will be outlined Tuesday.

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