Topeka Unveiling his “Road Map for Kansas,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback on Monday promised to freeze state spending and reorganize government.
But Democratic opponent Tom Holland called Brownback’s plan a “Road to Ruin.”
Holland’s campaign issued a statement saying Brownback’s proposals lacked details, grew government at the expense of public schools and contained gimmicks that “should raise red flags.”
Brownback, a U.S. senator from Topeka, and Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, square off in the Nov. 2 election.
Brownback rolled out his goals at a news conference and planned a bus tour this week to tout the proposal.
His stated goals include increasing Kansans’ net personal income, private sector employment, the percentage of fourth-graders reading at grade level and the percentage of high school graduates who are college or career ready, and decreasing the percentage of Kansas children who live in poverty.
Brownback declined to reveal details on how to accomplish the goals, but did say that in his first month of office he would establish a general state fund spending freeze and issue executive orders to reorganize parts of government.
He said funding shifts would be made in state spending, but that the bottom line spending figure will be frozen. Brownback didn’t say how long he would maintain such a freeze. Over the past 18 months, an unprecedented drop in state revenue has forced several rounds of budget cuts and an increase in the state sales tax that went into effect July 1.
Brownback also said that in his first month of office, he would implement an economic development plan, establish a citizens board to review new regulations before implementation, and empower an Office of the Repealer to recommend removing statutes and regulations “that have outlived their original function, are in conflict with one another, or simply do not make sense.”
Holland’s campaign manager, Dana Houle, said Brownback’s call for smaller government was undercut by proposals for “a lot of new bureaucracies.”
“These gimmicks might work in Washington, but here in Kansas he’s raising more questions than he’s answering,” Houle said.
Brownback said he will “retask existing resources” to create the Office of Repealer.
During the news conference, Brownback also reiterated his statement that the school funding formula is broken but declined to say in what way. Public school funding makes up about half of the state budget.
Houle said advocates of public schools should be wary.
“The only way Brownback could pay for his new government programs is to put public schools on the chopping block,” he said.
On school funding, Brownback said, “ ... we need to focus the state’s dollars on classroom instruction, promote innovation, reform the school finance formula, and pursue unified accounting of school districts’ use of state funds.”