Thursday, September 11, 2008

Governor Sebelius Speaks at Kansas State Fair

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius spoke during a chamber breakfast Wednesday morning at the Kansas State Fair. Each year Wednesday is Governor's Day and she kicks it off at the chamber breakfast.

This is her 14th consecutive fair. She attended eight as Insurance Commissioner and this is her 6th as Governor. She said some of the highlights for her were the year she was part of "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor, and launching the Kansas State Quarter.

She spoke about the aviation industry and her visit to a big air show in England. She said 50% of the general aviation plants flown in the world right now have a Kansas connection. Wichita is the center of that industry in the state.

Energy was a topic for her too. She said, "We need a comprehensive energy plan nationally," and encouraged people to call their representatives and encourage them to help renew the production tax credit for wind energy.

Wind energy is growing here by leaps and bounds, which is logical since Kansas is the third windiest state in the nation. There was a goal to have 10% wind energy by 2010. We're already at that. Two years ago we were at 3%. Sebelius said there has not been a transmission project in Kansas in 30 years, which was part of the problem of getting the power to where it could be used. Currently there are five, private, competing projects. Kansas is part of the corridor known as the "Saudi Arabia of wind."

Sebelius said that "food based ethanol is a bridge. We do not want food/energy competition." She said it's best to move to cellulosic ethanol such as from switchgrass. "We've grown the food. There's no reason we can't grow the fuel," she said. She said this has "huge potential for the future."

She touched on education, and how important that is to the state. "Education remains our single most important economic development tool we have," Sebelius said. She spoke about how most of us have multiple careers and that sometimes requires retraining.

Health care remains one of her concerns. She wants insurance for everyone because 46 cents of every dollar we pay for health insurance goes to non-insured. Eleven cents goes to direct costs - like going to the ER instead of to a primary care physician. People tend to only go to the ER when they're much sicker. The other 33 cents goes to overhead costs - we're not buying anything related to health with that money. That 33 cents of every dollar you and I spend on health insurance is going to extra billing, redundant forms, etc. - basically, paperwork. We spend more for health care and get less for it than almost any developed nation.

She said 80% of the Kansas state budget is invested in health care or education.

After the speech she was going to tour around the fairgrounds. I went to work a shift at the democrat's booth. I left a little after 11 but she hadn't been in that building yet.
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