May 20, 2024

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Colyer Staffs Up to Lead Executive Branch

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It may appear like Gov. Jeff Colyer is throwing extra cash into more administrative staff but that isn’t the case, says former state budget director Shawn Sullivan.

“It’s a shuffling around, but the money is the same,” Sullivan says.

Sullivan now serves as the state’s Chief Operating Officer, a role that didn’t exist during Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration, and Colyer appointed state Rep. Larry Campbell, an Olathe Republican, to replace Sullivan as the state budget director.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer

The new Governor alluded to changes in the administrative branch during his address to a joint session of the Kansas Legislature on Wednesday. He has a new policy team and a new communications team.

There are five communications staff members compared to only two at the tail end of Brownback’s term.

“There are fewer staff in other places,” Sullivan says.

Colyer also said he has a new management team and he has made changes to the cabinet, such as the appointment of Campbell to budget director.

“We will manage Kansas more like a business,” Colyer said.

Sullivan’s role will include helping the executive branch manage and responding more effectively and professionally, or “more like a major corporation,” as Colyer explained it in his address.

Administrative salaries cost $1.4 million during the Brownback administration, and they’re budgeted for the same amount under the Colyer administration. Sullivan said the state will appear to be paying out a bit more, because of some of the changes however. He explained that as old staff leaves, they may receive payouts for unused vacation time, for example.

Colyer’s cabinet changes to date include the appointments of Gina Meier-Hummel as the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families and former state Rep. Greg Lakin as Chief Medical Officer. Lakin will head a task force to implement solutions to a growing opioid addiction epidemic, and Meier-Hummel will be tasked with reviewing and reforming the state’s child welfare system.

The Governor is also expected to announce a lieutenant governor soon.

“At this point, the selection process is ongoing,” Kara Fullmer, Colyer’s press secretary, said. “I think you can expect an announcement before the end of the month.”

She said Colyer has narrowed his choices, and background checks currently are underway on some possible candidates. Colyer’s second won’t require confirmation by the Kansas Senate, and Fullmer wouldn’t say whether the candidates for consideration have ever faced Kansas voters. Once those are complete, Fullmer says Colyer will initiate a tour of the state to introduce the lieutenant governor to Kansans.

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