Democrat Amy Schumacher

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

A. When I was the airport manager for the city of Hutchinson, effective planning and prudent budgeting were all

Q. What is the most important issue in the 72nd district and what is your plan to address it?

A. The most important issue facing our community is economic development through sustainable jobs. There are many things that we can do to help address those issues. From helping small businesses by providing the same tax breaks and incentives that are given to large businesses to helping wherever we can to reduce the barriers to new businesses.

Q. Are there ways for the state legislature to support projects in Harvey County, like the Logistics Park?

A. Newton is in a good position for the Logistics Park due to great infrastructure with highway, rail and broadband access. What I think the state legislature can do is find out what the needs are and what barriers would keep businesses from locating in Harvey County. There are a variety of incentives that can be brought to bear to make Harvey County a lucrative area to locate a business.

Q. In what areas of the state budget should cuts be made? Are there any areas where spending should be increased?

A. The state budget poses many significant challenges. Revenues remain weak while some costs are forecast to increase. It is unlikely that we’ll be able to cut costs much more than they already have been slashed without affecting many of the critical services that are offered. There are areas that we could focus on improving to help make sure that Kansas is in a good position when the economic picture is more favorable. Investment in infrastructure and education will be key drivers for future economic growth.

Q. What could you do to keep taxes low for your constituents? Under what circumstances would you vote for increases?

A. Kansas sits around the middle when it comes to tax rates. I think the legislature needs to take a hard look at what the funding situation is in Kansas and how we can fund the critical items without further hurting the lower and middle classes.

Q. What can be done on the state level to encourage job creation? If elected, what would you propose?

A. We need to ask a couple of questions:
1. What elements are keeping existing businesses from expanding or hiring more people?
2. What things would make Kansas more attractive to new businesses considering relocation?
There are no one-size-fits-all answers to the issue of job growth, and I think we need a nuanced approach that is guided by real information — not rhetoric.

Q. To what degree should the state subsidize industries or offer tax breaks to keep jobs in the state?

A. There are times when offering a tax incentive or subsidy to a business results in that business staying in Kansas and prospering. However, we’ve also been burned by this in the past by some large companies that were stringing us and many other states along. I think we need to focus on the best return on our investment here — and for that I believe that incentives to small businesses will pay far greater returns in the way of jobs and continued economic development.

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 support the idea of No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, the desired outcome has not been achieved. Instead, we have alienated teachers and hurt our school systems. I would like to see education measures based less on test scores and focused more on peer-based evaluations.

Q. What can be done to make higher education more affordable at state institutions?

A. Education is a cornerstone of our long-term prosperity. We need to work with higher education institutions in finding ways to help keep education affordable for Kansans. The federal government already has taken steps to increase Pell funding, but more could be done. A state investment in higher education generally repays the economy through a skilled work force and job creation.

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. The state of Kansas should let the federal government do its job with handling border control. That being said — it is certainly true the federal government could be more effective in this area. As for imposing financial penalties against businesses — this is an area that I think needs more clarity. Many businesses have no affordable way of determining the valid citizenship of an employee beyond a simple photo ID and Social Security card, and it is illegal for them to try and do so. Businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers only hurt their communities and themselves in the long run.