Kansas will have a new governor.
On Wednesday, Congress confirmed President Donald Trump's nominee for the Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom to be Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
The deciding vote to nominate Brownback came down to Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie on the Senate Floor.
On Thursday Brownback sent in his official resignation as governor saying, "I am resigning as Governor effective 3 p.m. CST on Jan. 31.
"It has been a great honor to serve and represent Kansans for most of my adult life.
"Thank you for this opportunity to serve, and may God bless our great state and nation."
With the resignation, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will take up the role as governor once he is sworn in on Jan. 31 at State Capitol.
Colyer will be up for re-election by the end of 2018 and will be faced with an already crowded candidate race that also sees four candidates that are 18 years old.
In July of 2017, Trump nominated for Brownback for the position but was not confirmed.
Upon hearing of the confirmation, Kansas representatives and senators spoke about Brownback's new role as well as the state seeing a new governor.
District 119 representative Brad Ralph from Dodge City said, "I wish Governor Brownback the best in his new endeavor. It is unfortunate that the state has recently been without the leadership of a governor at a point in time when significant issues are confronting this state.
"I am looking forward to having a governor who wants to work with the legislature to craft common sense solutions, rather than standing in the way or disengaging altogether.
"I would hope that we will see some immediate demonstrations by the new governor of his intention to find those common sense solutions, and assist the legislature in bringing some much-needed stability to the state going forward."
In several press releases, US Senator Pat Roberts, US Senator Jerry Moran and soon-to-be governor Colyer spoke about Brownback.
"Sam Brownback has always been called to fight for those of all faiths," said Roberts. "I am glad he now has the opportunity to lead our nation’s efforts in promoting religious tolerance and fighting against religious prosecution and discrimination.
"His personal and professional commitment to fighting for religious freedom will make him an excellent ambassador.
"I thank him for his service to Kansas, and I wish him the best in this next chapter of public service."
Moran said, "Governor Brownback has long demonstrated his commitment to promoting the freedom of all to practice the religion of their choice.
"He will now be in a position to continue this important work as our Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom.
"The governor has been a dedicated public servant for many years and it was a privilege to support his nomination today."
On Wednesday after the vote, Colyer said, "This evening in Washington the United States Senate voted 50-49 to confirm Governor Sam Brownback as Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, Vice President Mike Pence being the tie breaker. "I’d like to congratulate the governor and wish him the best of luck in his new position advocating on behalf of persecuted religious minorities around the world." "The next step will become clear within the next few days as the governor prepares to go off to serve in his new position and I prepare to take the reins as the 47th Governor of the state of Kansas.
"I am excited to get to work listening, serving and leading on behalf of the people of Kansas. "Thank you for your unwavering support on this journey."
The Democratic Governors Association, a independent voluntary political organization organized to support Democratic governors and candidates across the nation, also released a statement.
The press release said, "Sam Brownback is finally leaving Kansas, but the Brownback nightmare is far from over.
"Brownback’s disastrous experiment inflicted untold damage on the state’s schools, hospitals and infrastructure that will take years to fix.
"While Governor Brownback is leaving, his policies will continue under Jeff Colyer's governorship.
"Lt. Gov. Colyer has been the loudest cheerleader and biggest fundraiser for Sam Brownback's disastrous governorship.
"Colyer and all the Republicans running for governor would continue the same Brownback policies that created the mess in first place.
"Kansas Democrats have a strong field of candidates running for governor this year, and the DGA will enthusiastically support the Democratic nominee.
This November, Kansas voters will have the chance to elect a Democrat and move the state beyond Brownback once and for all."
Prior to the confirmation, Brownback's office released a statement regarding plans to stop what is being called KanCare 2.0.
The release stated that Brownback and Colyer plan to stop the KanCare plan in order to address concerns that were raised by legislators and other stakeholders in regards to increased costs and the state's ability to absorb those costs in future budgets.
"As a result," the press release said, "they will be seeking to make improvements to the current KanCare program by either extending the contracts of the current three managed care companies for a period of three years or evaluating proposals received in response to the current bid solicitation without the cost increase drivers which have raised these concerns.
"The Administration will work with the Kansas Legislature to determine the best path forward and provide certainty and improvements to the current program."
The press release went on to say that the state will seek, in either scenario, to implement budget neutral improvements to KanCare such as work requirements, an IMD exclusion waiver, foster care pilots, behavioral health and primary care integration and improved work opportunities.
"Additionally," said the press release. "The new Secretary of Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Jeff Andersen, will renew the agency’s focus on addressing problems with the program’s eligibility process.
"A backlog of applications had slowed down the approval process for participants and reimbursement for providers.
"The state is in the process of issuing a letter of noncompliance to the contractor in charge of the eligibility clearinghouse where applications are processed."
"The plan would call for continued meetings and involvement by the KanCare Process Improvement Working Group. The group will hold quarterly meetings with KDHE where participants and providers can discuss improvements and provide feedback."
Brownback added, "Keeping Kansans healthy continues to be a top priority. W"e’re going to continue to work hard to make sure we have a program that works for Kansas."
Colyer then said, "With improvements to the current system of KanCare I feel we can continue serving Kansans by helping improve their health and well-being.
"We will continue to listen to participants and providers and work with the legislature to ensure we are increasing the quality of care and outcomes under KanCare."
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