State lawmakers from far and wide attend forum

9 Sep 2016

Legislation, Quarterly Conference

Lawmakers and potential lawmakers who attended a Thursday legislative forum in Scott City in front of a coalition of western Kansas economic development leaders tended to agree that economic development is vital for the largely rural half of the state.

But they also agreed that incentive programs need to be cost effective and provide the best “bang for the buck,” especially given the state’s current budget challenges.

Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, said the state will be looking at tight budgets for the foreseeable future, which means that every state program is going to be under the microscope, including those offered by the Kansas Department of Commerce designed to spark economic activity in the state.

“We owe it to the people of Kansas to make sure we’re spending that money effectively. And that goes for all the other programs within Commerce, as well,” Hineman said.

Thirteen Republican state lawmakers and candidates participated in Thursday’s forum during the second day of the quarterly western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance (wKREDA) conference in Scott City. The group includes economic development officials representing 55 counties in the western half of the state and works to grow their local economies and provide opportunities for businesses to thrive.

State lawmakers or candidates attending included District 69 Rep. J.R. Claeys, Salina; District 125 Rep. Shannon Francis, Liberal; District 122 Rep. Russ Jennings, Lakin; District 123 Rep.-elect John Wheeler, Garden City; District 118 Rep. Hineman; District 110 Rep. Ken Rahjes, Agra; District 111 Rep. Sue Boldra, Hays; District 112 Rep.-elect Tory Arnberger, Great Bend; District 117 Rep.-elect Leonard Mastroni, La Crosse; District 119 candidate Brad Ralph, Dodge City; Senate District 33 candidate Mary Jo Taylor, Stafford; District 36 Sen. Elaine Bowers, Concordia; and former District 120 Rep. Rick Billinger who is running for state senate in District 40.

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