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Legislative delegation to solicit public’s thoughts at forum in Wichita

  • Eagle Topeka Bureau
  • Published Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at 8:11 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at 8:11 p.m.

Before the Kansas Legislature begins its 2014 session next week, Sedgwick County residents will have a chance to voice their concerns to elected representatives Wednesday in Wichita.

The South-Central Kansas Legislative Delegation, which includes Republicans and Democrats, will hold a public forum in the jury room of the Sedgwick County Courthouse, 525 N. Main, at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Residents can sign up starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday to speak briefly at the forum.

Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, chairwoman of the delegation, expects the event to be standing room only, full of those passionate about a wide variety of topics, including school funding, abortion, KanCare and the economy.

“This year, so many people are out of work, you’re going to have people talking about job creation,” Faust-Goudeau said.

Those issues are already on the legislators’ radar, but voters united in a common cause can help sway officials to take action, she said. She hopes her colleagues will be persuaded to vote to expand Medicaid.

“I think it’s essential that we stay grounded and know what the people want, what their needs are.”

Sen. Michael O’Donnell, R-Wichita, said the state is not ready to expand Medicaid while it is still in the early stages of privatizing Medicaid with KanCare.

O’Donnell said his primary economic goal for the session will be restoring $2 million the state cut from the National Center for Aviation Training last year.

“It (NCAT) touches so many people, and I think it’s a crown jewel in Sedgwick County,” he said.

O’Donnell predicts that education funding will be the biggest focus of Wednesday’s forum “because of the sheer amount of money that Kansas spends on education.”

The Wichita school district and other districts throughout the state are awaiting a decision from the Kansas Supreme Court regarding school funding.

Lawmakers also will hear presentations from the city of Wichita, Sedgwick County, the Wichita school district and other organizations at the National Center for Aviation Training, 4004 N. Webb Road, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday. That event is open to the public but will not include opportunities for public comment.

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