Some familiar hot-button issues — health care, the economy, immigration — popped up again during a political forum Monday night at McKinley Administration Center in Newton.


Some familiar hot-button issues — health care, the economy, immigration — popped up again during a political forum Monday night at McKinley Administration Center in Newton.
Democrat Raj Goyle, Republican Mike Pompeo and Reform candidate Susan Ducey made a last-minute plea for votes to about 100 voters during the forum.
U.S. House candidates were joined by 72nd District Kansas House candidates Republican Marc Rhoades and Democrat Amy Schumacher, 74th District House candidates Democrat Max Smith and Republican Don Schroeder and Democratic Secretary of State candidate Chris Biggs. The local chapter of Business and Professional Women sponsored the forum.
The U.S. House candidates took the stage first with Pompeo and Ducey blasting big government.
Both said they supported the appeal of the health overhaul.
Ducey said the law was unconstitutional.
“By doing away with pre-existing conditions, people are going to wait until they get sick and then go to the insurance company and say, ‘I want my insurance.’ Why would they get insurance? We are going to put insurance companies out of business, and we will have state-run health care.”
Pompeo said Kansans want the health-care bill repealed.
“It will be a huge burden on businesses across the state,” he said.
Goyle said he thought some provisions of the health-reform bill should be repealed but not the entire overhaul.
He said requiring businesses to fill out 1099 forms for their employees is burdensome, but provisions that close the medication donut hole for seniors and eliminating discrimination based on pre-existing conditions should be allowed to go into affect.
On jobs, Pompeo pointed out he started an aviation company that created 400 jobs in the Wichita area, and his opponent, Goyle, has never worked in the private sector.
Pompeo said the government needs to get out of the way, ease regulations and allow businesses to create jobs.
“I understand the burden of the federal government’s policies and rules,” he said.
Ducey said the people who own business should be allowed to do business.
“We have an oppressive tax system,” she said. “It’s right out of ‘Communist Manifesto.’”
Goyle said government should offer incentives to business to relocate or stay in Kansas. He said he supported targeted tax incentives to grow business.
Goyle, in TV attack ads, has criticized Pompeo for allegedly outsourcing jobs to other countries and said Monday he would work to keep jobs in the United States.
All three candidates said they supported a tougher stance on immigration.
Ducey said she supported a fence along the border with armed guards and opposed any type of amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“People who come here illegally don’t just break the law when they come, they break the law every day,” she said.  ... “I believe in America for Americans.”
Goyle, whose parents both are legal immigrants to the United States, said he believes all immigrants need to come to the United States through legal means.
“I think immigrants need to come here the right way,” he said.
Goyle said he thinks the federal government should crack down on companies that hire illegal immigrants. He said he always has opposed amnesty and supported a bill while he was in the Kansas Legislature that made English the official language of the state.
The candidates for the Kansas House tackled the topics of schools and taxes.
The candidates were asked their position about the 1-cent sales-tax increase that was passed by the Legislature this spring.
Schroeder, who has spent two terms in the House, said he did not vote for the tax. He said he could not support a tax increase when the state also increased its spending by $211 million.
His challenger, Smith, said he did not approve of the increase because a portion of the tax increase is permanent.
“The more they tax us, the more they spend,” Smith said.
Schumacher said she was torn on the issue of the tax increase. She said it did close a budget deficit, but she said she would like to see the increase sunset when the economy improves.
Rhoades, who also is a two-term member of the House, said he also did not vote for the tax increase. He said economists estimated Kansas will lose between 10,000 to 22,000 jobs because of the tax increase.
“I think it is bad policy in tough economic times,” he said.
The candidates proffered their ideas on the tax formula as a whole in response to a question on tax exemptions.
Schumacher said she supported higher taxes for people with higher incomes.
“Why reward people who can afford to pay a little more? I think the entire tax bracket needs to be reevaluated,” she said.
Rhoades said he disagreed.
“If you tax people more who make more, you will cause people to be less successful,” he said. “They are going to hire one less person, so they make $249,999 and don’t have to be in that higher tax bracket.”
Schroeder addressed tax exemptions and said they were an issue of fairness. The Legislature reviewed all the state’s sales-tax exemptions in the spring but failed to make reforms.
“When you have tax exemptions, you narrow the tax base,” he said. “You have fewer people paying more taxes. Some people get a free ride.”
The candidates were asked if the Legislature should fully fund schools.
Rhodes said it will be difficult to keep funding in check at the state level if it doesn’t address school funding, as school funding accounts for 67 percent of the state budget.
He said other state-funded programs have been cut 25 percent to 35 percent, but school funding only has been cut 2.7 percent.
Schroeder said the Legislature is doing its best to fund schools at the levels established by the Montoy funding lawsuit of 2005, but the state has lost 20 percent in revenue.
“We would like to maintain the status quo and not cut any further,” he said.
Schumacher said fully funding education is important to growing the economy.
“If we don’t fully fund schools, it is going to hurt our kids 10 years from now when they are trying to find jobs,” she said.
Smith said Kansas schools need to tighten their belts until the economy improves.
Biggs took questions from the audience solo, as his challenger Kris Kobach was not in attendance.
Biggs addressed the issue of the security of the voting system, which has been a focus in the campaign.
Biggs said he does not support a central system of balloting, as the current decentralized system is more difficult to disrupt.
“I think there is great security in the diversity of 105 election offices,” he said referring to the 105 county clerks who run elections in the state.
Biggs opposes requiring proof of citizenship to vote, noting there are many Kansans who do not have birth certificates. He said all voters must affirm when they register, under penalty of perjury, they are U.S. citizens.
Biggs served four terms as a prosecutor in Geary County and said he is one of the few people in the state who has prosecuted a voter fraud case.
“We have to ask, ‘Do we have a serious problem?’” he said.
The candidates for governor were not in attendance, but a letter from Republican Sam Brownback was read.