Kansas Governor Laura Kelly made a stop in Salina Monday, speaking at a Rotary Club luncheon and then with the media afterwards.
The Governor spoke about the legislative session, which is nearly concluded. She said there were several noteworthy achievements. Included among them:
- Fully funded schools. Prior to her stop in Salina Kelly signed education funding legislation into law.
- Modernizing the Kansas Department of Labor’s digital infrastructure.
- The Ike Transportation program. Funds borrowed from the state transportation program will be paid back by 2023, at which time transportation funding can be expanded. A cost share program will help communities with infrastructure development.
- Expanding broadband via a newly established Office of Broadband Development.
The Governor told KSAL News so far during her time in office Kansas has seen over $5 billion in economic development, with a portion of it coming during tough times during the pandemic. Among the development are multiple projects in Salina including:
- A multi-million dollar expansion of the Schwanns frozen pizza facility bringing 225 new jobs.
- A multi-million dollar expansion of Great Plains Manufacturing bringing 130 new jobs.
- Added funding to the Kansas State University Polytechnic campus allowing for program and technology expansion.
Kelly also spoke about employment in Kansas, and the frustration some employers are having in finding employees.
The Governor told KSAL News she will be meeting with the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders later this week to discuss employment issues, including the extra $300 a week unemployment benefit which Kansas federal lawmakers are pressuring her to end. Kelly said even if the benefit ends, it won’t solve the workforce shortage.
Right now there are about 50,000 available jobs on the Kansas Works website, and at the same time there are about 26,000 people receiving unemployment benefits. Kelly added “this workforce shortage isn’t new, it’s just taken a different look.”
The Governor thanked the Salina Rotary Club for their extra efforts during the pandemic, noting the organization strived to make sure the food bank was always stocked and is also on the forefront in urging everyone to get vaccinated. She noted the “Vaccines Work: Ending Polio is Proof” yard signs the organization has distributed around the community.