Kelly sworn into office as governor; focuses on schools, community

Laura Kelly on Monday was sworn in as Kansas’ 48th governor and urged Kansans to write a new chapter in a state that she said has historically focused on education and community progress.

“Schools are the center of our communities,” Kelly said in her inaugural address after taking the oath of office on the south steps of the Statehouse. “A quality education is what we cherish,” she said.

Kelly, a Democrat, praised teachers, saying they are “not just a line item in a budget.” She said the reason she and her husband settled in Kansas was because of the state’s commitment to education and sense of community.

She said the state’s history of public service and non-partisanship had been derailed in recent years in Topeka, and she called on Kansans to return to its roots.

“We need to bring that same spirit of service and cooperation back to this building and let the insults and finger-pointing give way to compromise and a handshake — by putting down the partisan swords and lifting up the values that unite us as Kansans, because in a day and age when our politics can seem so small, we must be as big as the people who sent us here,” she said.

During the inaugural, banners hung behind Kelly that said “Equality, Education, Opportunity.” They were the same banners used during the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board decision that ruled segregation in schools unconstitutional.

“The story of Kansas is one of equality and opportunity,” Kelly said. “Decent, honest people working hard for their families. Vibrant cities and proud small towns. Strong, top-notch public schools.”

Kelly, a former state senator from Topeka who defeated Republican Kris Kobach, will face a battle immediately on the education front as the 2019 legislative session started.

Kelly has said she supports adding the inflation adjustment to school funding, which has been called for by the Kansas Supreme Court. But Republican legislative leaders have said the price tag — approximately $360 million over four years —is too high. Republican legislative leaders support a constitutional amendment that would remove the Kansas Supreme Court from K-12 litigation focused on adequate funding. Kelly opposes such an amendment.

Share this post