Name: Bud Estes (Incumbent)


Party Affiliation: Republican


Email Address: SenatorBudEstes@gmail.com


Age: 74


Campaign Website: budestes.com


Occupation: Business owner


Education: Graduate Fort Hays State University


Tell us your top three priorities once elected?


— Balance the budget with controlled spending and no tax increase


— Jobs to southwest Kansas and passing legislation to a lower property tax


— Healthcare for southwest Kansas and Protect businesses from litigation associated with COVID pandemic


Why are you the best candidate for the office you seek?


I am a lifelong resident in rural Kansas and a business owner prior to being elected to the house and the senate. My past and current experiences give me a deep understanding of the issues Kansans face on a day to day basis.


I’m a respected and productive legislator. I understand the process and can work with other legislators to get things done.


I am Chair of Fed and State committee, one of most important committees. Abortion/life, and 2nd amendment legislation passes through this committee.


How will you work with members of the opposing party to advance policies that help all Kansans?


The committee is where most of the work is done for the many bills we work on. Almost always Committee members from both sides of the aisle have input to the bills before the final bill is passed out of committee. As Committee Chairman I encourage this.


I will work with members of any party who support rural Kansas priorities.


Do you support Medicaid expansion?


For me to support Medicaid expansion, I have many questions that need to be answered, What will the Taxpayers have to pay? Needs to be budget neutral to taxpayers. Work requirement/pathway to work. Those making between 100-138% of poverty level would be given option to keep their private insurance rather than being forced on to Medicaid. If Federal gov’t reduces its promised match in the future the plan terminates. No taxpayer funded abortions. What will the Kansas taxpayers have to pay? How many will sign up for the program? Who will be responsible for the administration of this program? Will there be a premium charge for the coverage? Will there be enhanced reimbursements for the small rural hospitals?


Not including Medicaid expansion, what ideas do you have to improve the quality and access to health care for Kansans?


Prohibit surprise billing in Hospital ERs. More cost transparency for the patient. i.e., know out of pocket expense on all non-emergent care ahead of time. Use technology to get this information. More consumer-friendly insurance plan designs in the individual market. Support rural hospitals to have flexibility on services offered and bed size, while maintaining full Medicare reimbursement rates. We passed the Farm Bureau Health Bill which brought low cost quality care to many rural Kansans. We are looking at expanding Telehealth for all Kansans, and we should continue to look at adding Direst Primary Care for all Kansans.


What role do you see the state government having in the expansion of broadband to rural areas and underserved urban areas?


Kansas State Government should reduce regulation where it makes sense to allow expansion of broadband to the rural areas. We need to develop a plan and solutions to bring this to our rural areas and underserved urban areas. Along with the $50 million and projects being worked on with the COVID-19 Relief Funds state, local, and private can work together to improve not only broadband but cell phone dead zones. Big opportunity here to use the COVID-19 Relief funds to improve broadband for telehealth, remote work, and education.


How would you grade the state’s response to COVID-19?


We have visited with Kansans from Kansas City to Liberal and ask that question, the overall response was a D. Shutting Down Schools, Shutting Down Businesses and then not being prepared for the Unemployment Insurance Claims was a big mistake. State was slow to increase non symptomatic testing to slow the spread, slow to help staff at nursing homes get rapid testing, and slow to show support to businesses and schools wanting to safely reopen.


What should the state do to tackle the budget shortfall it is likely to face, barring federal aid? What other revenue sources should it look at to accomplish this (marijuana, sports betting, etc.)


The Governor is required to give the legislature a balanced budget in January. More than likely she will attempt to balance her budget by shorting KPERS, the state employees and teacher’s retirement fund, borrowing and increasing debt, and possibly diverting money from KDOT again. We will have to wait and see what kind of budget structure she presents the legislature in January. Part of the solution is quit increasing spending, the SGF, has increased to over a billion dollars in spending over the last two years. At the heart of American Agriculture and part of the Animal Health Corridor, Kansas is a great place for agricultural start-ups to locate.


What ideas do you have to attract these businesses to Kansas?


Work is being done with the Dept. of Commerce to expand and enhance the Rural Opportunity Zones for our rural counties. To attract businesses we must have housing, day care and qualified trainable employee candidates. We must work with our schools and community colleges to train these employees. Expansion of broadband is also a key in our growth.


What should Kansas be doing to strengthen and increase vitality in rural communities?


I feel those answers are listed above.


Name: Edgar A. Pando


Party Affiliation: Democratic Party


Email Address: edgarpandoforkansas@gmail.com


Age: 29


Campaign Website: www.edgarpandoforkansas.com


Occupation: Attorney


Education: B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Kansas; Juris Doctor, University of Kansas School of Law.


Tell us your top three priorities once elected?


– Agriculture


— Rural Healthcare


— Education


Why are you the best candidate for the office you seek?


I have dedicated my career to serving my community and will continue to do so as a Senator. The problems we currently face are technical and the things holding us back are too often easily avoided. I have the exact kind of background that will be necessary to help tackle the major issues facing our communities and I promise to never make a decision without reaching out to local stakeholders. If elected I will be one of the only engineers and the only practicing attorney in the entire Kansas Senate. As an attorney I have advised local governments and traveled across over 20 Kansas counties advocating for survivors of domestic violence and the elderly. Through my experiences, I have seen firsthand the issues facing our communities. For too long our community has not had representation reaching out and listening to the concerns of the community. I will not stand for that type of leadership and that’s why I’m asking for your vote.


How will you work with members of the opposing party to advance policies that help all Kansans?


As a lifelong moderate, I have no interest in playing petty party politics. My only goal is to do what is best for Southwest Kansas and that means reaching out to Republicans and Democrats across the state who are willing to work to achieve outcomes that benefit our community. This also means that I promise to stand up to either party if they are not acting in the best interests of my district. My only loyalty is to my district and I will never waiver from that out of political convenience.


Do you support Medicaid expansion?


Yes.


Not including Medicaid expansion, what ideas do you have to improve the quality and access to health care for Kansans?


Recruitment and retention of providers is a never-ending problem for rural Kansas. While we should continue to support efforts to help recruit providers to bring in-person care to rural areas, we should also look to expand telemedicine as an option. Additionally, we can look to establish sustainable health care models in more remote areas that can provide access to services that would otherwise be nonexistent or difficult to maintain.


What role do you see the state government having in the expansion of broadband to rural areas and underserved urban areas?


Broadband expansion is a monumental task that will require us to establish infrastructure in difficult to reach areas. Kansas already has an established Universal Service Program which has already worked for rural Kansans in the past. Our Electric and Telecom cooperatives show us that local ownership with governmental incentives can work to provide quality and necessary services to rural areas. Modernization of the current program with a new funding mechanism and expanded distribution opportunities will allow us to tackle the task of establishing and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to provide quality broadband access to rural Kansans.


How would you grade the state’s response to COVID-19?


Kansas currently has among the lowest cases of COVID-19 per capita in the Midwest region and has among the lowest COVID-19 deaths per capita in the entire country. We are also in the top half of all states for current unemployment rate—a rate which is even lower in southwest Kansas. I believe these are important metrics to look at when judging the state’s response. We could have always done better but, looking at the numbers, it is difficult to suggest that we have not done well as a state.


What should the state do to tackle the budget shortfall it is likely to face, barring federal aid? What other revenue sources should it look at to accomplish this (marijuana, sports betting, etc.)


Current estimates show better-than-expected returns for the year which should help buffer any major budget shortfall. Cutting programs should be a last resort if there are options for other tax revenue creators. Sports betting is one potential option that has been discussed by the legislature more recently. Gambling revenues on sports betting by Kansans currently go to out-of state or off-shore businesses. Bringing this revenue to the state makes sense, if implemented correctly.


At the heart of American Agriculture and part of the Animal Health Corridor, Kansas is a great place for agricultural start-ups to locate. What ideas do you have to attract these businesses to Kansas?


We can’t attract businesses if we don’t have the infrastructure necessary to support those businesses. This means that focusing on things like broadband expansion, highways, and airports is a necessity for Kansas as we move forward. We also cannot attract businesses if we don’t have competent and qualified workers readily available. For southwest Kansas this means we need to invest further into our community colleges and emphasize more trade and agriculture education in our K-12 schools. The investment in education can also work two-fold as these well-educated local students are more likely to be the ones to start businesses and keep them here in Kansas. Implementing these ideas in tandem with developing small business incubator programs at our colleges and universities will help create home-grown businesses right here in Kansas.


What should Kansas be doing to strengthen and increase vitality in rural communities?


When I was deciding to run, I wrote down three things that I believed were necessary to advance in order to make life better in southwest Kansas and ensure the longevity of our communities. Those three things—agriculture, rural healthcare, and education—became my campaign priorities. We simply cannot ignore these important issues and expect our communities to thrive on their own. We will strengthen our communities by investing in infrastructure, businesses, and education to keep our youth from leaving and attract newcomers to our community.


As a challenger I'm proud to have earned the support of multiple organizations, including the Kansas National Education Association, Game On for Kansas Schools, the meatpacking workers' union UFCW Local Two, and the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association.


I also have endorsements from Run for Something, SMART HD, AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers and the Kansas State Council of the Service Employees International Union.