Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly putting foster care, Medicaid, schools at top of agenda

TOPEKA, Kan. -- Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly is already hard at work on the budget she will present to legislators in January.

"We will fully fund our schools. We will work to expand Medicaid, and we will address the life and death issues in our foster care system," she said in a sit-down interview Monday inside the Kansas Statehouse.

They're no longer campaign promises but plans for the governor-elect as she and her transition team get ready to take office January 14.

The Democrat replaces Republican incumbent Jeff Colyer but will need bipartisan support to get anything done in Topeka, with Republicans still controlling both the Kansas House of Representatives and State Senate. It's something Kelly said she's dealt with her entire time in the Statehouse.

"I didn't have 21 votes to get anything done without being collaborative. Nothing has changed from that. It will take collaboration with legislature across party lines," Kelly said.

Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly

Kelly skipped a trip to Washington D.C. to meet with President Donald Trump, saying she was putting Kansas first.

"Clearly I've been spending a lot of time in a windowless room looking at the budget," she said.

So far she likes what she sees, saying Kansas is continuing on road to recovery from what she calls "the Governor Brownback tax experiment."

Kelly expects to present a balanced budget without any tax hikes that would increase spending on infrastructure and roads, schools and expand Medicaid. She also said she'll work to implement the Child Welfare System Task Force's 24 recommendations to overhaul the Kansas Department for Children and Families. Step one: improving technology.

"One thing that's very clear is we've got to be able to improve the ability to communicate where our kids are who they are with," Kelly said.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.