Business owners and government officials from around the Emporia area were invited to participate in an informational Zoom call with Senator Jerry Moran Friday afternoon.
The conversation served a dual purpose, both allowing Moran to get a better feel for the happenings in Lyon County as well as providing community leadership a chance to voice their opinions on where they’d like to see Topeka — and in a broader sense, Washington D.C. — focus on over the next few weeks in order to mitigate the negative financial and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the call, Moran stressed that he and many of his colleagues from both sides of the aisle realized it wasn’t so much a time to closely adhere to their parties’ positions as much as it was to band together and get things done.
“I believe the federal government spends too much money borrows too much money, and, in truth, interferes in people’s lives in too many ways,” Moran said. “I want less spending, less debt and less federal government involvement in our lives, and these three and a half phases are the opposite of that.
“While there are things in each of those bills that I find objectionable, this seems like the time in which we ought not all expect to get exactly what we want. We ought to make certain we’re recognizing the country and the state are diverse, and our needs are diverse. We all can put up with a few things that we don’t like if we believe the overall package is good for the country.”
While addressing more specific issues such as the topics of K-12 education, broadband internet access and the financial impact of the virus on agriculture and other vital industries, Moran admitted there would be much more to combating problems than simply identifying them. At this point in time, he said, much may still be dependent on whether Kansas receives additional federal funding — and if so, to what level — as well as how lawmakers legally and fairly allocate the pre-existing $1.25 billion in emergency money and other resources.
“We want to have more flexibility provided so that what we’ve already appropriated can be spent in a way that the state and the community sees a benefit in regards to their COVID-19 situation …” Moran said. “I know that Missouri, for example, is taking 25 percent of their money and providing it to local units of government, but I don’t know what that conversation is currently like in our state.
“Even in the absence of flexibility, I would remind you all that the CARES act provided money to your airport, provided money to your public health department, provided money to your schools and provided money to your universities. There are COVID-19 grant programs for police departments and sheriff’s offices too, so, it’s not just about the money that is seen as coming to Kansas.”
Pledging to continue providing community leaders with updates on important happenings and additional testing capabilities, Moran expressed hope that Emporia’s leadership will continue to persevere through challenges in order to improve the sense of confidence around the state.
“With getting this thing open and people back to work in the economy generating revenue, and income, and payroll and paychecks — it still deals with whether or not people know that they are healthy and they’re safe to go out. If the president or the governor announces tomorrow that the economy has opened and to go to work, there’s a lot of people who are going to jump at that chance, but there’s a significant number of people who still are uncertain what the right answer is. Maybe their own health is already in jeopardy, or they take care of their senior parents or they have young kids. So, I’m definitely a proponent of more testing than what we do today, but there has to be ways that we provide some certainty to people that it is okay to go out and participate [in society again] and that is all related to health care.”