Archive for Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sebelius’ nomination compliment to state

March 5, 2009

On Monday, President Barack Obama named Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius his nominee for secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Although she must still be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, those in the state she is leaving behind and who twice elected her governor by comfortable margins are left to wonder if we should feel jilted or honored.

The answer is probably a little of both.

Certainly, Sebelius is leaving the state in difficult times. The Legislature, already forced to come to terms with the overall of the budget passed a year ago to account for a recession, must now deal with even more difficult decisions for the coming fiscal year. The state may well miss the governor’s ability to stand firm against a Republican dominated Legislature — which was demonstrated in the line-item veto last month that ended current fiscal year’s budget impasse — as the crafting of the 2010 fiscal budget goes forward.

And the state will surely miss the sure administrative hand Sebelius first demonstrated as Kansas insurance commissioner and then as governor, where in her first term she insisted on a top-down search for cost saving. Her success was such that the Legislature adopted as its own her proposals to bring under a single umbrella the state’s health-care services.

It is a sign of success in this sphere that, although they didn’t agree with her fiscal policies, we have heard Republican express admiration for the efficiency of her appointed department heads.

With that in mind, we should be honored those qualities of effective civil service were recognized on a national scale. The qualities Sebelius demonstrated in Kansas of being able to stand firm for core believes yet work with the opposition party will be needed as the Obama administration presses forward with its health-care reform plans. And certainly her administrative efficiency will be most welcome at the head of a large Washington bureaucracy.

In the end, Sebelius’ nomination is a compliment to the voters of the state who elected her to multiple terms as insurance commissioner and governor and the state’s politicians and employees who further molded her.

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