Phillips is up to the challenge

By Walt Braun

Riley County Republican precinct members chose well Monday in electing Tom Phillips, a former Manhattan city commissioner, to fill the 67th District Kansas House seat won in 2010 by Susan Mosier.

He was chosen over two other qualified individuals, Frank Beer and Bob Boyd, and we’re confident Mr. Phillips will be more committed to the position than the person he replaces.

As a city commissioner, Mr. Phillips sometimes seemed conservative and other times moderate. He isn’t easily pigeonholed; nor does he seem overly concerned about labels. When he is sworn in, he’ll join a powerful Republican majority in the Kansas House of Representatives.

He made few promises when addressing precinct members Monday, and knows he has much to learn. As is appropriate, his immediate priorities include getting up to speed on school finance reform, redistricting and other state issues. He also considers it important to meet with KSU President Kirk Schulz, Manhattan-Ogden School District administrators and other civic leaders and citizens to learn their concerns. Though all politicians say promise to represent their district and their constituents, it sounds more sincere than rehearsed when Mr. Phillips says it.

A self-employed consultant, he recognizes the role that taxes play in funding essential functions of government, but, as he said Monday night, he’s “a free market guy” and appreciates low taxes. What’s more, given the impact the federal deficit will have on states in the coming years, he knows Kansas will have to continue to stretch available resources.

He withheld judgment on Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax reform proposals, saying he needs to learn more about them. Mr. Phillips did, however, say it’s important that the effort to lower income taxes doesn’t shift the burden unfairly onto sales taxes or property taxes.

We’re confident Mr. Phillips will become a good, even outstanding, legislator. He is no ideologue but has demonstrated the courage of his convictions. He is thorough in his research, thoughtful in meetings and sensible in his approach to public issues.

We don’t expect to agree with all of his votes, but we don’t doubt that in casting them, he will act in what he believes to be the best interests of the 67th District and the State of Kansas.

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