Sebelius’ farewell remarks to Kansas

There were no fond farewells last night from former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as her successor, Gov. Mark Parkinson, was sworn in.

Sebelius was already off to Washington D.C. to be sworn in for her new job as Health and Human Services secretary, when Parkinson took his oath of office.

But apparently, Sebelius was thinking of Kansans and today her former office posted her farewell remarks on the governor’s website which still bears her mug. There is also a video available on the site.

Following is the transcript of her farewell remarks:

Over 34 years ago, a young Kansan returning to his home state to practice law asked me to marry him and move to Kansas. I said yes, and left my job in Washington D.C. to marry Gary Sebelius. And I have loved every step of this amazing journey.

We have made Topeka our home for over three decades. Gary and I raised our boys in this community. And I have been involved in public service here since 1987, when the people of Kansas first sent me into this building as a member of the House of Representatives.

It has been one of my greatest honors to serve as Governor of the great state of Kansas. And so, the decision to leave this post early is not an easy one. But I am committed to service, and when the President asked me to accept a position in his Cabinet, I could not refuse. I felt obligated to answer President Obama’s call to work with him on the challenges of providing affordable health care for all Americans, delivering essential services to our most vulnerable populations and maximizing our resources to benefit the health of all of our citizens.

I am so proud of the work we have done together to move Kansas forward, since I was elected our state’s 44th governor in 2002. The legislature came together, worked with me, and resolved a lengthy battle over the finances of our children’s education, and in doing so made an historic commitment to have excellent schools in every district in Kansas, and open the doors of opportunity for all of our children.

Our work over the last seven sessions has made college more accessible to more Kansas students, with millions of dollars of new scholarship money and additional state resources to lessen the burden on families and students.

We have worked to deliver vital services to Kansans in need, and have received national recognition for those efforts to help seniors and the disabled.

Thousands of additional Kansas children now have health insurance thanks to Healthwave, and our health department is working with school districts, state employees, seniors and others on strategies to ensure a healthier generation of Kansas citizens.

The ten- year highway plan will be completed on time and on budget, ensuring that our goods and workers get to markets safely and efficiently. And our corrections efforts to reduce our prison population and more successfully integrate returning inmates to their home communities has become a national model.

When a federal announcement was made about closing military bases, we mobilized partnerships of federal, state and local officials, community and military leaders, and made the national case for not only keeping but expanding Kansas military assets, and the building growth in Junction City and the surrounding area is a testament to the success to that successful effort.

The bi-partisan public-private campaign to convince the Department of Homeland Security to choose Kansas for their national laboratory succeeded, and generations of Kansans will be the beneficiaries of the decision. And the effort to earn a national cancer institute designation has been launched.

But it’s times of crisis that bring out the best of Kansans, and throughout my terms as governor we have had our young men and women deployed to fight in two wars. We have lost soldiers whom I will never forget, and to whom we will always be grateful. We have experienced floods and ice storms, hail and high winds and the devastating effects of tornadoes.

The whole world was aghast when Greensburg, Kansas was almost wiped off the map in May of 2007, and today is moved as this rural Kansas community rebuilds for a 21st Century future. They did not do it alone, but the decisions and efforts started with the local community who was determined to make a better life for their children and grandchildren, and their determination, hard work and hope have inspired a nation.

Once again, we came together as a state, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Kansans – facing a crisis together, and putting our time and our talents to the task of helping people in need.

Knowing that when we work together, all things are possible; that we need one another for help and support, of understanding that even in bleak times, things will get better, are great Kansas lessons for me to back to Washington.

A great partner for the past three years is Mark Parkinson, who will soon become the 45th Governor of Kansas. He has been a steady partner in moving Kansas forward, in leading some of the strategic initiatives which position us well to emerge from the current economic difficulties in better shape than most states, and who will be a terrific governor. He has been a trusted advisor, an enthusiastic officeholder and a very good friend. And I am grateful to him, and his family, for his return to public service at a time when Kansas needs his service.

While I will be taking on new responsibilities, I will continue to work on behalf of all Kansans, as now I work on behalf of all Americans. I am proud to be joining a President who has close ties to our state – raised by Kansas women – and understands the values of faith, family and community that are so important in the heartland. My husband, who brought me here over 3 decades ago, will stay and work here, at least for now. Our son, John, who is here today, is living and working in Lawrence, so I will have a regular reminder that there’s no place like home.

I want to thank Kansans for their incredible support for me and my family over the years. I have had the privilege of working with some of the very best people on earth and I am so proud of what we have accomplished together.

And I ask for your continued prayers, for me, for our President, for our new Governor and for our country. I am optimistic that the Kansas motto will again be realized; we need to continue to aim high, and while there will be difficult times, like the economic challenges of today, working together, we will reach the stars.