LAWRENCE — When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, government at all levels needed to manage a public health crisis, continue providing essential services and stave off economic disaster. However, public health interventions, such as stay-at-home orders and contact tracing, have had mixed reception from the public and mixed support from government officials. The 2020 Kansas Economic Policy Conference, taking place virtually Oct. 22, will address the question: What is the role of government in a crisis?
“Some people think that government is a problem. But when an international crisis like COVID-19 takes place, we look to government for solutions,” said Donna Ginther, Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Economics and director of the Institute for Policy & Social Research (IPSR). “I’m excited that this year’s Kansas Economic Policy Conference will tackle the important question of what is government’s role in addressing the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. What worked and what didn’t? And what should state and local governments be doing as the crisis continues and potentially worsens with winter coming?”
Speakers and panels will address this topic from several angles. Ginther will offer a keynote address on the Kansas economy, and Bill Murphy, deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce, will offer a keynote on economic development in the context of the pandemic.
The conference will continue with conversations on public health, education and broadband, and policy solutions for moving from crisis to recovery. Several Kansas legislators and policymakers will serve as panelists:
- Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers
- State Sen. Carolyn McGinn (R-Sedgwick)
- State Rep. Stephanie Clayton (D-Overland Park)
- State Rep. Troy Waymaster (R-Bunker Hill)
- Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment
- Maj. Gen. David Weishaar, the adjutant general of Kansas
- Shannon Kimball, Lawrence Public Schools Board of Education.
The conversations will also feature Brad Bergsma, vice president of information technology and athletics of Northwest Kansas Technical College, and Catherine Moyer, CEO and general manager of Pioneer Communications.
KU researchers Tami Gurley, associate professor of population health; Ward Lyles, associate professor of urban planning; and Germaine Halegoua, associate professor of film & media studies, will contribute to the conversations as well.
Jim McLean, managing director of Kansas News Service, and Deb Miller, director of the KU Public Management Center in the School of Public Affairs & Administration, will moderate the conversations.
The conference has been streamed online for several years now, and this year, it will take place entirely online. Thanks in part to University Center CARES Act (Coronavirus Act, Relief, and Economic Security Act) funding from the Economic Development Administration, the conference is free and will be live-captioned. The afternoon will conclude with a virtual happy hour so that attendees can directly talk with each other.
“Hosting the conference online will ensure the safety of all attendees and still provide an outlet for us to discuss the economic challenges in Kansas. A benefit of hosting the conference in a virtual format is that we are able to welcome all Kansans and others interested in the Kansas economy free access to our annual conference,” said Jena Gunter, assistant director of IPSR.
IPSR staff, together with Ginther, have been collecting and disseminating information about the spread and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic since March. Resources are gathered online at https://ipsr.ku.edu/covid19 and include presentations from Ginther on the economic consequences of the pandemic, briefings on federal stimulus funds in Kansas, reports focused on healthy recovery in five Kansas counties and a gallery of maps and graphs.
Kansas Economic Policy Conference registration is free and open to all who wish to attend. Visit https://ipsr.ku.edu/conferen/kepc2020/ to see a detailed program for the afternoon and to register.