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Governor delivers State of State address; local lawmakers respond Featured

Governor Laura Kelly gives her 2021 State of the State address on Tuesday Governor Laura Kelly gives her 2021 State of the State address on Tuesday Office of the Kansas Governor screenshot

Governor Laura Kelly outlined her plans for the year ahead during her State of the State address Tuesday night.

Not surprisingly, she discussed the state's overall response to coronavirus. Kelly says the number of losses have been countless, whether through deaths, jobs, businesses, classroom time or time with loved ones, but the response has been "heroic" as evidenced by the ongoing work to get vaccines to residents and increase the availability of testing. With that in the background, Kelly made another plea for lawmakers to expand Medicaid.

Kelly also acknowledged ongoing issues in the Department of Labor, which has been stumbling through its response with old computer equipment, management concerns and staff shortages. 17th District Senator Jeff Longbine of Emporia is glad more money is coming to fix equipment issues, but he says lawmakers had already earmarked money for that purpose and other issues aren't being resolved.

Kelly also touted the state's financial situation despite the coronavirus pandemic, saying the state could have a $600 million ending balance when the fiscal year wraps up in June. However, she cautioned about going back to tax cuts during prior governor Sam Brownback's tenure.

60th District Representative Mark Schreiber says two important items lie ahead.

Kelly also outlined her five economic growth priorities: small businesses, infrastructure, new job creation, agriculture and broadband.

A lot of specifics in the governor's plan will come out this week, especially when it comes to the budget after that document is delivered to lawmakers around 9 am Wednesday.

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