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Topic: State Budget

Gus Bogina, Kansas

Interview of August (Gus) Bogina, February 6, 2018

Interviewed by H. Edward (Ed) Flentje
In this 2018 oral history interview, former State Senator August (Gus) Bogina discusses his service in the Kansas Legislature, focusing on his 14 years in the Senate. Bogina reflects on his relationships with Senate leaders and governors during his 11 sessions as Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Bogina also describes his storied ride with the Highway Patrol when he was brought back from Johnson County following bypass surgery to cast the deciding vote on the water plan funding. A version of this interview is also posted on KansasMemory.org, the website of the Kansas Historical Society.
Darlene Cornfield, Kansas

Interview of Darlene Cornfield, October 9, 2020

Interviewed by Patty Clark
Former State Representative Darlene Cornfield reflects on her six sessions in the Kansas House representing the 90th House District (Sedgwick Co.). She describes the issues that come back year after year and the challenges faced by a new legislator. She identifies the difficulties faced by conservatives at a time when the Republican party was undergoing an ideological change. Cornfield observes that the citizen legislature is most effective but did not favor term limits.
Kansas House Speaker Robin Jennison

Interview of Robin Jennison, October 4, 2019

Interviewed by Jim McLean
Jim McLean’s interview of Robin Jennison is lengthy but full of interesting stories and anecdotes about what went on in the legislature in the last decade of the 20th Century. McLean teases out both the politics and policy from Jennison’s experiences in the House with the 1992 school finance bill and his Republican alternative. Jennison shares his philosophy on how to fund schools, lower property taxes, leadership races and his rapid rise to Speaker in the 1999-2000 sessions. The strategy he used to pass the 1999 transportation bill out of the House is clever. There is Show Morean anecdote about replacing carpet in the Judicial Center and what it took to get that appropriation passed. Jennison describes his role as Secretary of Wildlife and Parks and working under Governor Brownback. Show Less
Speaker Doug Mays

Interview of Doug Mays, September 25, 2020

Interviewed by Alan Conroy
This interview with former Speaker Doug Mays contains good insight into how the Kansas House of Representatives functioned at the end of the Twentieth Century and the first decade of the Twenty-First. The institution was changing as its membership became more conservative. Mays describes in great detail how its leadership dealt with controversial issues such as school finance and taxation. Mays cites two issues as his proudest accomplishments: passing a sales tax to lower property taxes for Washburn University and neighborhood revitalization legislation. Speaker Mays notes that every time a bill came through, he read Show Moreit. His discussion of the power of the speaker is illustrated with numerous examples. “ I believed in the process. I believed that the speaker was the keeper, the protector of the process.” He promoted civility in the body and developed a good relationship with the Minority Leader Dennis McKinney which allowed him to end the 2005 Special Session without adjourning sine die. Mays promoted greater use of technology for the legislature and tightening of deadlines to ensure smooth operations. There are several examples of his relationship with governors. Anyone interested in being a speaker should read this interview. Show Less

Interview of Edward (Ed) Reilly, July 2, 2019

Interviewed by Dale Goter
In his 2019 oral history interview former State Senator Ed Reilly recalls controversial issues that went through the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee during his tenure as chair (1971-1992). Those issues include the death penalty, liquor by the drink, lottery, pari-mutuel wagering, and casino gambling, some of which required adoption of Constitutional amendments. Reilly attributes the acceptance of those cultural changes in part to the need to raise additional state revenue. Reilly recalls professional relationships with the Statehouse press corps and the influence of grass-roots interests. He observed the increase in the number of women in the Legislature and Show Morecomments about their contributions. Show Less
Bob Storey, Kansas

Interview of Robert (Bob) Storey, February 5, 2015

Interviewed by Burdett Loomis
Bob Storey in his 2015 oral history interview recalls his service in the Kansas Senate from 1969-1976. His recollection is of a senate that was in transition in terms of urban-rural influence on policymaking due to the one-person, one-vote principle enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the mid-1960s. He recalls intricacies of interactions among senate leaders and governors and occasional intrigue in senate leadership elections. He also reflects on improvements in the functioning of state government during the years when reorganization and modernization of many state functions took place.
Chief Justice Lawton Nuss

Interview of Lawton Nuss, July 27, 2022

Interviewed by Richard Ross
Retired Chief Justice Lawton Nuss describes his attempts to be appointed to the Court of Appeals (he was not) and to the Supreme Court. Nuss served as Acting Chief during the illness of Chief Justice Davis. After becoming Chief Justice in 2010 he became the chief spokesman and administrator for the entire judicial branch of nearly 1600 employees and 250 judges. In 2014-15 he appointed a Court Budget Advisory committee to help resolve an eight million dollar budget shortfall. He discussed at length the legislative reaction to the Gannon v State school finance case which was Show Morefiled in 2010 and not finally resolved until 2019. Nuss describes his work with the conservative leadership in the state legislature, and a conservative governor, and their attempts to gain more control over the courts. He dealt with budget shortfalls that resulted in closing the courts; attempts to elect rather than appoint judges; and threats to change the role of the courts in the constitution. Nuss was a vigorous defender of the judicial system's independence against legislative interference. He cited the Supreme Court’s Solomon case which essentially answered the question, "‘Should the judicial branch have to give away some of its power granted directly by the people in their Constitution in order to get funding from the legislature.” The court's decisions on school finance continued to provoke the legislature during his tenure. Show Less

Interview of Kathleen Sebelius, October 28, 2022

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon and Duane Goossen
Sebelius ran for the legislature to "go home." Her kids were ages 2 and 5 and she was eager to get out of a demanding job to spend more time at home--better work-life balance. She discussed the changes in the culture of the legislature and state government she experienced over the 30 plus years she served in public office. When both US Senate seats came open in 1976, a fissure was created in the Republican party when Brownback challenged Sheila Frahm for one of the seats. She notes the insurance industry was very partisan and tilted Show Moretoward the industry side. The discussion of budget issues with Goossen and Sebelius show their creativity in solving problems, even though her experience as governor was bookended by recessions. School finance also posed some unique challenges because the Great Recession got in the way of the court's mandates. Phill Kline, the Attorney General was urging Republicans to do nothing. The BEST teams they created were important in solving the budget crisis. The interview concludes with some discussion of her selections of Lt. Governors and her experiences at HHS and her activities after leaving government service. Show Less
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