Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer talks transition, accomplishments

Posted at 4:52 PM, Nov 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-22 20:12:23-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas governor's mansion will change occupants next year after voters elected Democrat Laura Kelly in November.

On Thanksgiving, current Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer, who took office in January, reflected on his leadership over the past year in office. 

"Today in Kansas, our unemployment rate is 3.3 percent. There are more Kansans working today than at any time in the history of the state of Kansas," Colyer said in an interview with 41 Action News. 

But his short tenure is almost over. Colyer met with Gov.-elect Kelly two days after the Nov. 6 election.

"I think operating Kansas more like a business is very important for us. I have my style and we're very management conscious of that, and she's going to have her priorities," Colyer said. 

Among Kelly's priorities will be expanding Medicaid with a Republican-controlled state House and Senate. 

"She's going to have to build her own majorities on her priorities, and she's going to have to outline to people what her priorities are and why they should do it and do it in the way that she's proposing. I hope that she will work with the legislative leadership," Colyer said. "That is the first thing that I did. I brought in Republicans and Democrats, and I hope that will continue overall in order to get those priorities."

The transition process is already underway, and Colyer wants it to be a seamless process. He said that his office has provided Kelly with materials and data to help with the transition of power.

As for what's next, Colyer said he will continue working at his medical practice and wants to stay active in Kansas. 

"For me it's about service. I'm sure there will be some public service involved with that. Many people have come to us with some very interesting opportunities," he said. "We're going to discuss that with them, but my main focus right now is I've got a very busy job to do as governor and I'm going to continue focusing on that up through Jan. 14. Then maybe (my wife) Ruth and I can think about some opportunities." 

Kelly will be inaugurated on Jan. 14. She will be the third woman to run the state in its history. 

Colyer, the former lieutenant governor, became governor in January after then-Gov. Sam Brownback resigned to take a job in President Donald Trump's administration. Colyer ran for a full term as governor but lost in the Republican primary to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.