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Financial security concerns congressman

Because COVID-19 has limited candidates’ opportunities for town hall meetings and meet-and-greets, the newspaper is interviewing state and federal candidates who avail themselves for in-depth local interviews as a way to help voters be informed.

Staff writer

When Republican senatorial candidate Roger Marshall, who represents Kansas’ 1st District, thinks about his concerns, one of the biggest is financial security for small businesses.

“One of the biggest barriers for small businesses to get started or be sustainable is access to capital,” he said. “That’s not unique to rural America. That’s not unique to Kansas. It’s always a challenge.”

Marshall credited forgivable Payroll Protection Plan loans for helping 5,000 small businesses retain half a million jobs in Kansas.

“We were faced with a catastrophic decision,” he said. “If we didn’t borrow that money, we thought we’d end up in a worse situation than the Great Depression, and future generations would have taken decades to recover.”

Repealing the Affordable Care Act to make health care more efficient could provide the financial boon needed to fund the Payroll Protection Program, Marshall said.

“Government is no different from any other business,” he said. “You walk into a business that’s upside down, and you try to increase income and cut spending where you can. The lowest hanging fruit probably is health care.”

Decreasing governmental involvement also would increase competition, letting consumers in choose their best options, Marshall said.

As a practicing obstetrician, he sees virology as an important aspect to his field of expertise, and identifies being educated on COVID-19 as part of that.

When looking at the virus, he views schools as especially concerning in terms of risk-analysis. While children may recover from COVID-19, many older teachers and staff members fall in a demographic of being at-risk. But his concerns are more than medical.

He thinks there also are emotional and social risks, especially for students who aren’t able to interact with peers.

“We think the quality of education is better in-person than online,” he said. “We think there is a lot of social interaction and psycho-social development for the children.”

Another concern as a doctor is the danger of staying at home so much for children in abusive homes.

“You see a kid come into your office three different times with a different broken body part and you wonder what’s going on here,” he said. “Teachers are good at recognizing that.”

In both of his jobs, Marshall says communication is integral to working effectively.

“My job has always been to ask people what’s important to them,” he said. “Listening is way more important than talking. I think the greatest physicians are good listeners. I think the greatest senators are, as well.”

Marshall — a Butler Community College alumnus — views technical and community colleges as under-used resources.

“The person who gets a two-year technical degree, goes out and works on the job for two years, then works on his bachelor’s degree is going to be the best boss anyone’s ever had,” he said. “I also think it’s a stepping stone to try to do college without debt. I was a first-generation college student myself.”

By increasing emphasis on these forms of higher education, students often spend fewer years enrolled, which can get them into the workforce sooner and decrease the amount of debt they incur, Marshall said.

He also expressed interest in opening college courses to high school sophomores instead of waiting until their junior years. He also would like to increase the number of classes they’re allowed to take.

“College seems so intimidating,” he said. “If you have a semester under your belt, I think it’s much more seamless.”

High-quality Internet and encouraging young adults to stay in rural communities are necessary to avoid job shortages, he said. Marshall cited his own experience working in Great Bend, and witnessing a shortage of labor from physicians to nurses, to teachers.

“We have to create a culture that we want you to move back,” he said. “For some reason my generation, and the generation after were encouraged to go to the big city and make a lot of money. That was the feeling I believe most of us got.”

Last modified July 30, 2020

 

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