TOPEKA — Gov. Jeff Colyer says he doesn't know what he will do after leaving office in January, but he plans to stay involved in Kansas politics and return to his humanitarian work as a doctor providing medical care in war zones.
He reflected briefly on his 10 months as the state's chief executive while preparing this week to spend Thanksgiving with his family. Because he's a surgeon, Colyer joked, they will count on him to carve up the turkey.
"I will continue working on my international work," Colyer said. "I'm working in war zones. I've always done that and will continue to do that. I'll still be involved in politics in Kansas, and we'll see what happens."
Earlier this year, the governor talked about his 30 years of service with the International Medical Corps during an episode of Capitol Insider, The Topeka Capital-Journal podcast about people and policies in state government. He said he bargained with a warlord in Sudan for access to a hospital and was in Iraq during the U.S. invasion in 2003.
Colyer was the lieutenant for seven years to Gov. Sam Brownback, who left in late January to take an ambassador position in the administration of President Donald Trump.
While discussing his accomplishments in office, Colyer pointed to the state's improved economic outlook. Brownback won election two years after a nationwide recession, and the state endured severe budget shortfalls stemming from supply-side tax cuts hailed by Brownback and Colyer.
Much of those cuts were reversed in 2017 by a Legislature that had to override Brownback's veto.
"The economy's completely different than where we started," Colyer said. "We have 3.3 percent unemployment rate — more Kansans are working today than at any time in history. We dealt with our budget issues. We're going to have an over $900 million surplus. We're making sure our schools are funded. We're making sure that we're minding our Ps and Qs. Our Medicaid program is in much better shape than it was. And we're just doing the basics — good management — and I think that's what Kansans expect."