Attorney Craig McPherson has represented the 8th District, covering parts of Olathe and Overland Park, in the Kansas House for just one term, but another local attorney is challenging him in the Aug. 5 Republican primary election.
The winner will face Democrat Jodie Dietz in the Nov. 4 general election.
While emphasizing her commitment to low taxes and local control, Stacey Schlimmer takes some slightly more moderate positions than McPherson.
For instance, McPherson flatly stated in answers to a Kansas City Star questionnaire that he would not vote to repeal the income tax cuts passed by the Legislature in 2012 despite a subsequent drop in revenue that has necessitated dipping into the state’s reserve funds to balance the annual budget.
He voted to repeal the state’s renewable energy standards, designed to promote “greener” methods of generating electricity. And he stated his opposition to expanding Medicaid coverage for Kansans, as envisioned in and funded by (totally for three years and then at a 90 percent annual rate) the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
In his answer to a question about the adequacy of public school funding, McPherson took a swipe at the state Supreme Court, which mandated an increase in a ruling earlier this year.
“The level of funding for education is a purely legislative question, not a judicial one,” McPherson wrote. “I support continued efforts to revisit the school finance formula and increase local control of education.”
On the question of repealing the income tax cuts, Schlimmer put it this way: “As long as the budget can spend less than it takes in, there will be no need to adjust the current system. I have some serious concerns with the sustainability of the current budget, considering there are even more tax cuts that are already scheduled. As a former financial auditor, the budget would be a top priority for me.”
On the green-energy rules, Schlimmer wrote: “It is time to carefully analyze the benefits of the renewable energy standards with respect to the mandates it has put on our businesses. Without persuasive evidence that the standards have worked towards achieving the initial objectives, I would not support restricting a free market system.”
Schlimmer wrote that Kansas “needs to focus more time and debate on Medicaid expansion.”
“Our current KanCare program is young and needs improvement,” she continued. “I favor any fiscally responsible way to improve health care. Although we must be careful not to become dependent on federal funds, I think the state should take every opportunity to take advantage of those funds without costing Kansas taxpayers an exorbitant amount of money. I want to ensure that Kansans have affordable and quality health care, but we must do it in the most fiscally conservative way. I would consider any options that would take full advantage of federal funding while ensuring we do not become dependent on federal funding.”
Schlimmer differed from McPherson on the Supreme Court’s school funding ruling, calling it “a good start” and adding that she “would like to take a good look at the school budgeting issue to determine where it leaves us.”
Education: Bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics, economics and government, Claremont McKenna College; law degree, George Mason University School of Law
Elected experience: Kansas House District 8, 2013-present
Education: Bachelor’s in communication arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison; law degree, Washburn University
Elected experience: None