Commentary: Sebelius' leadership needed in Kansas

This editorial appeared in The Wichita Eagle.

Theories abound about why Gov. Kathleen Sebelius removed her name Saturday from consideration for a post in President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet. But her stated reasons should be good enough for Kansas, which will need strong, practiced leadership if it's going to beat the fiscal crisis.

In a three-sentence statement released Saturday, Sebelius said in part: "Given the extraordinary budget challenges facing our state, and my commitment to continuing the progress we've made in Kansas, I believe it is important to continue my service as governor of the great state of Kansas; a job that I love and have been honored to hold. The possibility of joining President-elect Obama's team is exciting and compelling, but my service to the citizens who elected me is my top priority in these difficult times."

That explanation makes sense given recent state revenue collections, which mean Kansas faces budget holes as big as $141 million in fiscal 2009 and, if no action is taken, about $1 billion in fiscal 2010. Republican legislative leaders have been calling on Sebelius to cut spending immediately, and now she has nothing to distract her from that and other potential remedies.

Kansans and others are free to speculate about whether Sebelius is up to something else, such as planning to run for the seat being vacated in 2010 by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., or even to seek the University of Kansas chancellor's job coming open with Robert Hemenway's just-announced retirement. But given how close Sebelius came to being Obama's running mate, it seems highly unlikely that she was snubbed for a Cabinet job, as at least one leading Kansas Republican has suggested.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Wichita Eagle.

Related stories from McClatchy DC