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Lansing Correctional Facility
The Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) proposal to build a new prison in Lansing was approved by the State Finance Council early last session. In 2017, the KDOC introduced a plan to build a new Maximum/Medium/Minimum facility on the current LCF grounds. This project required the demolition of the existing Medium facility, while preserving the Maximum facility (this is the brick section that you see from Highway 7) for its historical value. Secretary of Corrections, Joe Norwood, made numerous presentations over several months to various Legislative Committees to explain the details of this project. Bids were submitted for the construction of the new LCF facility. KDOC accepted a bid from Core Civic Group to build this facility, with JE Dunn serving as general contractor. Core Civic will build and maintain the facility over the next 20 years, while KDOC will continue to oversee all operations. It will not be a privately-run prison. The projected savings of this plan over the 20-year period will be $23 million. I have spent months talking to local government officials, Leavenworth County Economic Development, business owners, LCF employees, and citizens who support the construction of this new LCF facility. I recently testified before the State Finance Council in support of this project, emphasizing its significance to our community. This new modern, state of the art facility will provide a safer working environment for both uniform and non-uniform employees, as well as providing added safety for everyone inside and outside of the prison walls. The projected opening date is set for approximately 2 years from now.
"[The new LCF will be] more secure and will have a better working environment. It will also not cost any additional money to taxpayers—it’s a win-win" --Debbie Deere Legislative Forum, June 16th, 2018
We have a constitutional obligation and responsibility to fund our schools adequately and fairly. Schools are the heartbeat of our communities in Kansas. Without great schools, positive growth for our communities will be hindered. I voted for the school funding plan that was passed in 2017 because it would have directly benefited our community’s public schools; however, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled this plan unconstitutional.
The Legislature passed SB 423 just past midnight on the final day of the regular 2018 session. An in-depth study of Kansas school finance concluded that we have severely underfunded schools for several years. There is a correlation between higher funding levels and better student performance, and a significant amount of money is necessary to bring our schools to adequate funding levels.
I voted yes on this bill because I felt it was a step in the right direction as well as a bipartisan effort to fund schools. The Kansas Supreme Court recently ruled that the funding laid out in this bill is still inadequate--however, the legislature has one year to fix it. This means that though there will not be a special session as speculated, there is still work to do.
In the next legislative session, I will continue to work to fund schools adequately. I will continue to fight so that all Kansas children can be properly educated, and so teachers and administrative staff can have the tools to do their best work.
As a result of the budget crisis, we haven't properly funded education, infrastructure, or critical state services like public safety (prisons, highway patrol) and social services.
During the 2017 session, the legislature passed Medicaid expansion, which would have helped thousands of uninsured Kansans get the care they so desperately need. Governor Brownback vetoed expansion, and we were very close to an override. In the 2018 session, Kansas House Democrats again made an attempt at Medicaid expansion, which would provide 150,000 Kansans who are currently uninsured with medical coverage. I have supported Medicaid expansion for this reason and for many others: it is estimate that 70-90% of Kansans approve of Medicaid expansion, and Kansas has rejected over a billion dollars in federal aid by refusing to expand. The expansion amendment was found nongermane, which means that the amendment could not be attached to the bill and there was no debate or vote over expansion. I will continue to push for Medicaid expansion for some of our most vulnerable Kansans.
Though after the repeal of Brownback's failed tax experiment our state is on the mend, it will take time to bring Kansas services back to fully operational, functional entities.
Taking Care of State Employees
We must provide fair wages and benefits for state employees. While they are a great asset to Kansas, their wages do not meet a competitive living wage. Recently state employees were given a pay raise, as were correctional officers, but I will continue fighting for these workers and ensuring their compensation reflects their hard work.
"We were able to give corrections officers raises up to a total of 15% to make sure they get the pay they deserve" --Debbie Deere, Legislative Forum June 16th, 2018
I am proud to have been a part of the reversal of the disastrous 2012 tax experiment implemented by Sam Brownback. Members of the more balanced 2017 Kansas House and Senate were able to come together with a bipartisan approach and solution to restore important tax credits, reinstate the third tax bracket, and repeal the LLC loophole, ensuring that all Kansans pay their fair share. Thanks to this reversal, our credit rating is back up, revenues are coming in over estimate every month, and we took the first step to restoring the state to fiscal responsibility.
However, due to the impact of irresponsible tax policy and the resulting budget deficits, we still have much work to do to ensure Kansans’ wellbeing and way of life are improved. We will be seeing the consequences of the tax experiment for years to come, and I will continue the difficult work of finding solutions on behalf of our community and our state. Particularly, the Kansas legislature needs to pass measures to lower the food sales tax. I will continue to fight for a fair tax structure.
In the last legislative session, the House Insurance Committee had a hearing on HB 2789, the bill would create an act making teachers first responders in the case of a school shooting. If this bill should pass, it would encourage
firearms in classrooms. Teachers would be allowed to carry concealed firearms in schools, with the logic that in a shooting, these teachers would be able to stop an active shooter.
Keeping our children and schools safe is of utmost importance to me. In a society where the safety of our
school environments is being challenged, I feel strongly that our schools should be a place where students and
teachers feel safe. I support implementing safety measures that allow school districts to improve upon and
increase the protection of our students. However, I do not support allowing teachers to bear arms. It is
unfortunate that this issue has been brought forward, but I am confident that there are more effective ways to
address this problem.
I supported HB 2773, which created the Kansas Safe and Secure Schools Act. This requires the Kansas State Department of Education to develop statewide standards for school safety and security plans to be adopted by each school district. This bill also establishes the School Safety and Security Grant Fund in the amount of $5 million, to allow districts to implement the needed security measures and provide options of consideration for appropriate training for staff and students. Kansas has amazing schools, students, and teachers. I will continue my commitment to supporting legislation
that offers the best possible opportunities for all Kansas children to receive the quality of education that they
In a joint press conference last session, Democrats in the Kansas Legislature rolled out a bill package to advance transparency in both the legislative process and state government. Democrats have long advocated
for more transparency within the government, and I agree with them. A recent series of articles in the Kansas City
Star detailing the consequences of this lack of transparency further underscored the necessity to address these issues. The bills presented in the package covered several transparency concerns, many of which had been proposed prior to the session. Government transparency impacts every issue in the Capitol and every branch of state government. By passing common sense transparency measures, the public and elected officials can move to a more open and accountable government.
"Gut-and-go is stripping a bill and replacing it with something completely different...I think that it needs to change" --Debbie Deere, Legislative Forum June 16th, 2018
"I put my name on every bill that I introduced or co-sponsored this session"--Debbie Deere, Legislative Forum June 16th, 2018
"I think we need to record votes in committee" --Debbie Deere, Legislative Forum June 16th, 2018
I also support:
- Social Service/Mental Health funding
- Common Sense/Bi-Partisan approach