Laura Kelly




Laura Kelly Headshot
Last Updated: 08/08/18

Laura Kelly grew up in a career military family where she learned the importance of service, integrity and accountability. She has made it her life’s work to fight for children and families on the job, in her community, and as a four-term state senator.

As the long-time leader of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, Laura advocated for public parks across the state. She was a leading voice in promoting healthy families and communities and improving the quality of life in Kansas through top-notch parks and recreation services. In earlier jobs, she fought to improve mental health services and helped patients live healthy, more productive lives.

Laura was elected to the Kansas Senate in 2004. She immediately built a reputation as a no-nonsense leader who could work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done. After just two years, she was asked to serve as the Ranking Minority member of the important Ways and Means Committee. She has advocated for fiscally responsible, balanced budgets that still reflect the priorities of Kansas communities, like schools, health care, roads and public safety. At the height of the Great Recession, she and a Republican colleague spearheaded legislation to establish a state savings account so Kansas could better prepare for unexpected, uncontrollable emergencies that impact the state budget.

As an advocate for children and families, Laura held the Department of Children and Families accountable for its lack of transparency and has demanded answers to tough issues that directly impact the safety of children in the foster care system. She was a key player in the establishment and funding of the Early Childhood Development Block Grants, which have helped thousands of Kansas children enter kindergarten ready to learn. As a mom, Laura understands how devastating the costs of child care can be for low-income women who just want to go to work and provide for their families. She’s fought to make child care more affordable for these parents, and she took a leading role in fighting Governor Brownback’s attempts to dismantle Kansas’ prized early learning system in 2016.

Most recently, Laura fought to repeal the Brownback tax plan and put Kansas back on sound financial footing. She knows it is important for everyone, including the wealthy, to pay their fair share to fund our priorities – like roads and schools. She was key to building the bipartisan coalition to reverse Brownback’s tax plan putting Kansas on the road to fiscal recovery. Laura has fought – from her first session to her most recent – for additional funding for K-12 schools, colleges, technical schools and universities.

The Brownback tax experiment taught Kansans first hand that it takes more than massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations to create jobs. After years of watching the Governor jump from one self-inflicted fiscal crisis to the next, Laura believes we need a new approach to jumpstart job growth in a rapidly changing economy. She has long supported traditional engines that drive prosperity: public schools, job training, and infrastructure, but she also believes Kansas leaders must think more like entrepreneurs and less like politicians. We must innovate and make creative, strategic investments that plan for the jobs of the future.

Unfortunately, the first year alone of Governor Brownback’s tax policy inflicted more damage to state finances than the entire Great Recession. After five years of hemorrhaging revenue on tax cuts for the wealthy, Kansas’ long road to recovery will require planning and precision. That’s why it’s so important to keep moving forward, and why Laura is uniquely qualified to lead Kansas into the next chapter.


Candidate's Info

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Phone Number 785-408-1088
Ethnicity Caucasian: Eastern/Western European/White

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Laura Kelly has a vision of education that spans from early childhood to K-12 to college to the workforce. Because every step along the way is important: a chance for Kansas to do right by our kids and their parents – or to let them down. And sadly, for the past seven years, Kansas has let them down.

It’s time to make our children – and their future – a top priority again. Parents, teachers and business owners get it. They know that great schools – and early learning programs – are the key to a bright future and growing economy.

Laura Kelly will be the Education Governor Kansans deserve.


Invest Early

In order for every Kansas child to succeed, they need access to good public schools. But more than that, they need strong early childhood programs that support both children and families, an accountable child welfare system to protect kids, and affordable, safe child care. We must invest early and put kids on the right path.

One of Laura’s proudest accomplishment is securing critical support for early childhood education programs. In 2009, she pushed for the creation and funding of the Early Childhood Block Grants to ensure that more kids enter kindergarten ready to learn. These programs help kids develop at an early age and impact their families for the better. And just this year, Laura demanded additional funding be added to the budget to support early childhood programs across the state.

Recently, Laura visited the Pittsburg Family Resource Center. The Center utilizes funds from the Early Childhood Block Grants, the community, and families to provide comprehensive early childhood education. They help prepare young kids socially, emotionally and cognitively to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Programs like this have a real impact on kids and families.

Teachers know better than anyone the impact early investment can have on kids going into kindergarten and the difference it can make in the years to come. When Laura Kelly is governor, Kansas will invest more in programs like this that benefit our children, improve our future work force, and prevent challenges later in life.

It’s really not rocket science: put kids on the right path at an early age – and keep them there. It’s how families succeed, it’s how our economy succeeds, and it’s how Kansas succeeds.

Because of Laura’s commitment and work on behalf of children, she recently received the 2018 Distinguished Service to Children Award and the Friend of Education Award.

Fund K-12 Schools

After growing up in a military family, Laura Kelly moved to Kansas for the promise of top-notch schools. And both her daughters got a world class education because of great schools and teachers. But in recent years, our schools have been put at risk.

Sam Brownback made the largest cut to Kansas schools in state history – resulting in larger class sizes, a shorter school week, and pay freezes for teachers. Laura Kelly fought back. She stood up for students, teachers and parents and worked to restore funding to our classrooms.

Laura helped lead the bipartisan effort to reverse the Brownback tax experiment and put Kansas on the road to recovery. She supported significant new investments in public schools to repair the damage done by Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer.

As governor, Laura Kelly will make our schools her top priority. Her vision for Kansas means our schools will have the resources to provide a great education to all our students – no matter where they live. Our kids will get all the support they need to learn and grow. And our teachers will finally get the respect and support they deserve.

Parents, teachers and business owners get it. They know that great schools – and early learning programs – are the key to a bright future and growing economy. Laura Kelly will be the Education Governor that Kansans deserve.

Health Care

All Kansans, no matter where they live, deserve accessible, affordable health care that works for them and their needs.

Due to cuts made by the Brownback-Colyer Administration and their failure to expand Medicaid, rural hospitals and clinics are struggling and even closing. This is hurting our communities and putting Kansan’s health at risk.

As governor, Laura Kelly will make sure Kansas families can get the healthcare they need.

Expand Medicaid

More than 150,000 Kansans have been left without healthcare coverage due to Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer’s failure to expand Medicaid. Not only that, hospitals and clinics across the state are at risk of closing. We can do better.

Laura Kelly has consistently supported expanding Medicaid to provide health coverage to more Kansas families. She also knows that expanding Medicaid will provide significant impact on our state’s economy and create thousands of jobs in the process.

As governor, Laura Kelly will advocate for and sign legislation to expand Medicaid in her first year.

Reform KanCare

Jeff Colyer’s decision to privatize Kansas’ Medicaid program, Kancare, to for-profit insurance companies outside of Kansas has put the health of thousands of Kansans at risk.

Laura Kelly will reform KanCare and ensure that our healthcare system is putting people, not profit, first. She will work with state agencies, community health groups and insurance companies to find the best plan to meet the needs of Kansans, and provide increased oversight and accountability into KanCare.

Protect Women’s Reproductive Rights

Laura Kelly is a strong supporter of a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions and has been a vocal advocate for women’s rights. Laura also understands decisions that impact women’s lives – whether it’s healthcare, schools, childcare or jobs – shouldn’t just be made by a room full of men. That’s why her campaign for governor is endorsed by EMILY’s List – the nation’s largest resource for pro-choice women in politics.

As governor, Laura will make sure all Kansans have access to reproductive healthcare, including birth control.


fter years of Governor Sam Brownback’s self-inflicted economic recession, Laura Kelly believes we need a new approach to jumpstart job growth in a rapidly changing economy.

Laura has long supported traditional engines that drive prosperity: public schools, job training, and infrastructure, but she also believes Kansas leaders must think more like entrepreneurs and less like politicians. We must innovate and make creative, strategic investments that plan for the jobs of the future.

Invest in Our Workforce

Laura Kelly has a vision of education that spans from early childhood to K-12 to college to the workforce. Business owners understand that great schools – and early learning and job training programs – are the key to a bright future and growing economy.

Laura will invest in higher education, including technical and trade schools, and job training programs so that all graduates in Kansas have the skills needed to enter the workforce. She will focus on promoting partnerships to ensure businesses can find the trained workers they need in their industry and schools (high schools and technical schools) are providing the skills training needed by our business community. That means investing in high school technical programs, community college certification programs, and college and university tuition relief.

Innovative Business Destination

During the last eight years, the Kansas economy has been stagnant and lagging behind many neighboring states.

Unfortunately, the Brownback-Colyer administration dismantled many cutting edge programs just to fill the fiscal hole they created. For example, the Kansas Bioscience Authority, which was designed to accelerate growth in the bioscience sector, was dismantled in order to pay for the disastrous tax cuts.

It is critical that Kansas look for new, creative ways to encourage growth in new industries. Laura will focus on making Kansas an innovative business destination and supporting new industries that leverage our state’s strengths to let us grow.


In order to support and enhance the economic climate in Kansas, Laura Kelly will prioritize investment in roads and other infrastructure needs. She will work with our local communities to make roads in urban areas the best they can be to support area businesses, expand 4-lane highways in rural areas, and improve the digital infrastructure in Kansas (including broadband).

Encourage Rural Growth

In the last decade, only 17 of the 105 Kansas counties have grown in population – widening the gap between urban areas and rural communities. Laura Kelly is determined to change this and encourage growth and development in our rural communities.

To do this, Laura Kelly will focus on several areas of investment: healthcare, infrastructure, tourism and community specific investment. View her detailed plan for rural prosperity here.

A Welcoming Kansas

The past eight years under the Brownback-Colyer administration have tarnished the image of Kansas, leading to large amounts of out migration from the state. Laura Kelly wants to make Kansas a place where young people and families want to work and live. We do this by welcoming diverse people to our state and investing in our schools, creating high paying jobs, and making Kansas a business destination.

Campaign Headquarters

P.O. Box 2098
Topeka, Kansas 66601

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