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Topeka Gov.-elect Sam Brownback on Tuesday picked a veteran Statehouse squad to lead his economic efforts, except for one: an Oklahoma-based consultant for Americans for Prosperity who will be the new state budget director.
Steve Anderson, a certified public accountant from Edmond, Okla., will now be in charge of helping craft a state budget recommendation for Brownback, a Republican who will be sworn in Jan. 10.
In recent years, Anderson has worked for Americans for Prosperity in Kansas and other states, trying to get legislators to decrease state spending and cut taxes. For the most part, AFP-Kansas’ recommendations have been ignored by the Legislature so far.
Last year, Anderson did a report on Kansas finances for what was called the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy. The report was roundly criticized. The report said there was $2 billion of state funds buried in “unencumbered balances” that should be returned to the taxpayers.
The current state budget director, Duane Goossen, and other state officials, said the report made some incorrect generalizations and noted that the funds cited in the report were used for specific purposes set up by state law.
Brownback was asked if he would use some of the fiscal proposals from Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by billionaire David Koch, leader of Wichita-based Koch Industries.
“I’m going to look across the globe for the best ideas,” Brownback said.
Anderson said he would be stepping back from his private business to work for the state of Kansas. Of Brownback, he said, “This is the right man at the right time.” Anderson said he is moving to Kansas.
Aside from Anderson, Brownback picked a group of people who, for the most part, are accustomed to the ins and outs of Capitol work.
“Our Economic Growth team is heavy on experience and offers fresh perspectives on the challenges that we face,” Brownback said.
For his Cabinet, Brownback retained Deb Miller as secretary of transportation and appointed former state Sen. Nick Jordan of Shawnee as secretary of revenue; state Rep. Pat George, R-Dodge City, secretary of commerce; state Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, secretary of labor; and Dale Rodman, secretary of agriculture.
“They bring to state government a blend of private and public sector experience that will produce results,” Brownback said.
He said his top priority is to “get this state growing again,” adding that means streamlining regulations and putting together a pro-growth tax system.
Miller, a Democrat, has been head of the Kansas Department of Transportation since 2003 and was first appointed by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Brownlee, Jordan and George have combined more than 30 years of experience in the Legislature. Rodman has spent nearly 50 years as an agri-business executive and consultant.
Jordan, who will lead the revenue department, said Brownback’s appointees will work as a team. “We all pretty much know each other. We’re excited about working together,” he said.
More Cabinet announcements are expected soon.