Holland lays out economic ideas

MANHATTAN — Promising to be the state's "No. 1 economic cheerleader," Sen. Tom Holland on Tuesday laid out his plan to encourage economic growth in Kansas.

He wants to funnel more money to education — both for kindergarten through 12th-grade schools and higher education — he said, speaking at the Kansas Economic Development Alliance fall conference in Manhattan.

Holland, a Democrat from Baldwin City, also promised to put more economic development money into technical training so Kansas has a work force that meets the needs of potential employers.

"We know that companies come to Kansas in part because we have a quality work force and quality state schools," he said.

The talk was one of a series of appearances that the gubernatorial hopeful plans this week.

Republican candidate Sen. Sam Brownback had been invited to speak at the conference Tuesday, but was unable to attend. He was in Washington, D.C. Among the bills he was debating was the defense spending bill, to which he co-sponsored an amendment to have the U.S. Air Force's new tanker built in the country, said his spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag.

"Kansans who elected him to represent them expect him to be there for the important votes," she said.

Over the past year, Kansas has lost about 60,000 jobs. Holland put partial fault for the economic downturn in Washington, D.C.

"I don't think we will be successful if we follow the same path," he said.

Holland also said he thought that state agencies, such as the state Department of Commerce, have done a good job developing the state's economy.

"They have put together the packages to bring companies to the state without giving away the farm," he said.

Holland said he would support the department's efforts by being the state's cheerleader and touting the state's schools and roads, which make it an attractive place for companies to relocate.

"Our focus should be on making sure we know our employers' needs," he said.

That would help attract more companies and keep more young people and their families in the state, he said.