KATHLEEN SEBELIUS served as a state representative for eight years and as the elected insurance commissioner of Kansas for eight years. She became governor of Kansas in 2003, pledging independent leadership to move the state forward. At the heart of Governor Sebelius’ administration is a commitment to growing the Kansas economy to create jobs; ensuring that every Kansas child attends an effective and efficient school; protecting Kansas families and communities; and making health care more affordable.
In 2005, Time magazine named Sebelius one of the nation’s top five governors. As a result of Sebelius’ commitment to making the state more attractive to business and her success in balancing the state budget without raising taxes, the Kansas economy has rebounded and more Kansans are working now than ever before. She also made cutting waste in government a priority, and actions such as the sale of 700 unneeded state cars have added up to nearly $1 billion in savings and efficiencies during her term. Because good schools equal good jobs and a growing economy, Sebelius has made improving public education a priority. Her guiding principle is that when it comes to education and Kansas’ future, simply doing better isn’t good enough. Other requirements include investments in schools—from preschools to colleges—and that schools be accountable with the taxpayers’ money.
To protect the safety of Kansans, Sebelius pushed for a law making it harder to obtain ingredients for producing methamphetamine, and her administration works with local law enforcement to prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies. She also has called for tougher jail terms for sexual predators and a minimum marriage age. Sebelius is working to lower health costs that threaten both families and businesses, starting with the 30 percent of every health care dollar that goes toward administrative expenses. She also has made it easier for Kansans to get low-cost medicines from Canada and Europe, and is working to help more businesses provide health insurance to their employees.
Sebelius has been married to her husband, Gary, a federal magistrate judge, for 30 years. They have two sons—Ned, a 2003 college graduate; and John, a college junior. Both Sebelius boys are products of the Topeka public school system from pre-kindergarten through high school. Sebelius also is the first daughter of a U.S. governor (John Gilligan of Ohio, 1971-1975) to become a governor herself.