TOPEKA (KSNT) — Kansas’ Democratic Governor Laura Kelly and Republican Missouri Governor Mike Parson are hoping to ‘disagree better.’
In a video released Tuesday, both governors announced their participation in the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Disagree Better initiative. The initiative is aimed at encouraging people to find “common ground.” They sat down at a local Kansas City BBQ spot, Q39 Midtown, to discuss areas of common ground as well as how to disagree better.
“Getting things done doesn’t just require working across state lines — it also requires working across party lines,” Kelly said. “That’s how Governor Parson and I have together grown the economy of the entire Kansas City region.”
Parson and Kelly’s views differ when it comes to certain legislation and working with Republican supermajorities in the Legislature.
While, Parson signed a gender-affirming care ban for minors this year, Kelly vehemently fought against similar bills in the Kansas Legislature. She also vetoed more than a dozen bills passed by Republican lawmakers.
Parson’s political views may align more with his party, but Kelly has marketed herself as ‘middle of the road.’
This doesn’t mean that the governor hasn’t clashed with Republican leaders on economic issues, like implementing a ‘flat tax.’ However, there have been areas where they’ve worked together to pass legislation that has promised billions of dollars in economic investment.
Last year’s APEX bill allowed the state to sign on to a $4 billion megaproject with Panasonic. The electronics company is building an electric vehicle battery plant in DeSoto, Kansas.
In an interview with Kansas Capitol Bureau, Kelly also mentioned that Kansas and Missouri leaders have worked together to attract major sporting events, like the NFL Draft.
“We’ve joined the Disagree Better initiative because we both agree — now is the time to turn down the volume on our national political conversation,” Kelly said Tuesday. “Finding productive ways to overcome differences is the only way we can make progress as two states and as a country.”
“It’s important to us to work together with our peers in Kansas to support the growth of the entire Kansas City Region,” said Parson. “In 2019, we came together to end the Kansas City Border War and to support the relocation of two key USDA agencies to Kansas City. In 2021, we collaborated on the National Security Crossroads initiative. While there are plenty of things we do agree on, we understand that there are plenty that we don’t too. As the 2024 election cycle heats up, we want to show the people of Missouri and Kansas that even when we disagree, we can disagree better.”
Launched in July, Disagree Better is a yearlong initiative designed to help Americans learn the skills of healthy conflict. According to the NGA, which includes governors of 55 states, territories and commonwealths, the effort aims to change the political behavior of both voters and elected officials.
The organization is hoping to show that the “right kind of conflict” leads to better policy, can be more successful politically than negative campaigning and is the pathway to restoring trust in our political institutions. Learn more about the initiative here.