Q. In what ways has your personal experience in work, education or other areas prepared you to be a legislator?


Republican Don Schroeder

Q. In what ways has your personal experience in work, education or other areas prepared you to be a legislator?
A. My undergrad is in business administration, master’s in public administration, and I have owned and operated a farm for 30-plus years. I have served on the local school board for five years, the McPherson County Commission for 10 years and in the Kansas House of Representatives for four years. The school board and county commission, in particular, helped me understand school finance, tax and budget issues.
Q. What is the most important issue in the 72nd District, and what is your plan to address it?
A. The depressed economy and jobs are important issues. We need to encourage the expansion of job growth by allowing private business to keep more of their hard-earned money, which they could use to hire people. Agriculture has been a bright spot, and we need to do what we can to keep ag strong in Kansas.
Q. Are there ways for the state legislature to support projects in Harvey County, like the Logistics Park?
A. The state typically supports these projects through infrastructure, namely roads and bridges. There may be some additional incentives available through the Commerce Department or Kansas Inc., just to name two.
Q. What could you do to keep taxes low for your constituents? Under what circumstances would you vote for increases?
A. Kansas already has cut the general fund budget by about 20 percent the last three years. However, there is still an overlap of programs that could be combined and some programs are not absolutely essential, which could be eliminated if the money is not there. Several programs, such as education, are worthy of increases, but we will be fortunate if we can simply maintain current funding levels.
Q. To what degree should the state subsidize industries or offer tax breaks to keep jobs in the state?
A. The best thing we can do to keep taxes down is to control spending. Since sales taxes were increased last session, it is unlikely an additional tax increase will occur. I prefer to make taxes more fair to all by examining and adjusting the exemptions given over the years. The many exemptions have narrowed the tax base to the point that fewer people end up paying more taxes, which is a fairness issue.
Typically, if we want more of something, we subsidize it. I don’t think we need to give away everything, but sometimes modest incentives are just enough to land additional jobs or keep jobs from leaving the state.
Q. What ideas do you have for education reform? Do you support federal mandates like No Child Left Behind? If not, what would be a better approach?
A. I think each child should be taught at their own skill level rather than keeping everyone of a certain age together. No Child Left Behind has great goals, but many are unachievable. NCLB also pushes schools to teach to certain tests rather than teaching critical-thinking skills. It also bothers me that some schools are becoming a place to push political agendas rather than educating students in basic skills, such as reading, writing and arithmetic.
Q. What can be done to make higher education more affordable at state institutions?
A. While the state has cut back on higher education funding, college is still a good buy. If students could live at home and attend a community college the first two years, they can save a lot of money. It is also important for students to understand they need to be prepared for college so they can take a full complement of courses and shorten their time in college.
Q. Should Kansas adopt stricter immigration laws or impose harsher financial penalties against businesses that employ undocumented workers? Are there other solutions you would propose if elected?
A. Ironically, the Arizona (immigration) law is nearly identical to federal law, so I would not call what Arizona has adopted a stricter law. They only are trying to do what the federal government should be doing. Harsher penalties should be put into place for knowingly hiring illegal workers. The problem is that often illegal workers are difficult to identify because of poor information and fake identification. Amnesty is not the solution, but shortening the processing time for citizenship would help.