The state’s Libertarian candidate for governor, Andrew Gray, may not be a big name in Kansas, but he has big plans for the state.
Earlier this week Gray released details of his proposed Kansas Education Liberty Act, along with a swift jab at the other gubernatorial candidate, accusing both of all rhetoric and no action.
“While other candidates talk in generalities about how they will improve educational outcomes while addressing the Kansas budget shortfalls, The Gray / Davis team shuns such vague political language,” Gray noted in a release. “Instead they have made public not only a specific education plan but the complete proposed legislation as part of their campaign to become the first Libertarian Administration in Kansas.”
Gray’s plan focuses on education- a hot-button topic in the state for the past year- aiming to return many of the decisions in the education system back to parents and local governing bodies while easing the state’s education funding burden.
Using scholarships, funded by private contributions to not-for-profit scholarship granting organizations, people, companies and organizations can help fund a child’s education while receiving a tax credit of $1 for every dollar contributed.
“We believe that when individuals, businesses and communities have the option to contribute to the education of the children of Kansas, we build both parental and community involvement and our children thrive,” Gray said.
Gray’s plan also promotes alternative forms of education, which Gray said, have been proven to help students with different learning styles and needs. The policy does not include a withdrawal from the federal No Child Left Behind program, which sets national-level standards for students achievement and testing, but Gray said, he and his administration would do whatever was necessary to remove barriers from the state’s education system.
Gray released his plans for education only days after Republican gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback announced his own intentions to improve education in the state. Unlike Gray’s plans, Brownback includes more specific goals and targets for student achievement and fewer suggestions for changes to the education system.
Gray stands behind his plan, noting that much of the proposed changes have already proven successful by districts in various states and the District of Columbia.
“Those existing school choice programs already successfully serve over 171,000 American students.”
Gray’s announcement was the first major call for attention from the party, which is often overshadowed by the state’s two major political parties.
Many people are unfamiliar with the principals and platforms of the party but, Gray said, libertarians are gaining in numbers. According to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office, in July 2001, there were 69 registered libertarian voters in the county and 9,956 state-wide. That’s an increase of 482 registered voters since August 2009 and an 833-voter increase since August 2007. Gray attributes much of the growth to people leaving both the republican and democrat parties because of frustration and lack of connection to the party’s top leaders.
“People are also beginning to understand the two existing major parties no longer represent the people but instead represent themselves as political power brokers,” he said.
The unique aspect of the libertarian party, Gray said, is its belief in both fiscal and social freedoms and believes that if one person’s believes and actions do not interfere with another person then it of no concern to anyone else. That message can’t be found with any other party Gray said. The party has also made a name for itself with its “tell it like it is” policy and promise to make “the hard decisions necessary.”
“In short, we will tell Kansans the truth that they need to hear to bring back financial and social security. We will treat the people of Kansas like adults,” Gray said.
Gray’s political clout has yet to be tested, as he was not part of the state’s primary election. If people vote along party lines, Gray’s chances of making it to Topeka are slim but he and others in the party believe they have a message and a plan Kansas will understand and want to be part of.
“With this campaign, we are building a door for other, everyday people to get into government without getting into politics.”