Archive for Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Statehouse Live: Sam Brownback says he is focused on economic growth

Governor-elect Sam Brownback is interviewed in his transitional office at the Statehouse in Topeka. Brownback will take office as the new governor of Kansas Jan. 10, 2011.

Governor-elect Sam Brownback is interviewed in his transitional office at the Statehouse in Topeka. Brownback will take office as the new governor of Kansas Jan. 10, 2011.

December 21, 2010, 12:39 p.m. Updated December 21, 2010, 4:51 p.m.


Governor-elect Sam Brownback talks about his priorities after being sworn in

Governor-Elect Sam Brownback speaks about economic development, education and medicaid in an interview with the Journal-World, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010. Enlarge video

— Gov.-elect Sam Brownback on Tuesday vowed to balance the state budget without a tax increase and try to improve the economy.

And despite a $500 million deficit, Brownback said there may be some room for targeted tax cuts aimed at developing rural areas.

“I’m focused on growth,” Brownback said in an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World. He promised to deliver an economic plan to the Legislature within 30 days after he takes office Jan. 10.

“We have got to get the growth agenda passed,” he said.

But his positions would likely result in funding cuts to public schools, and he said there are not enough funds available for a proposed higher education increase.

Public school issues

Brownback, a Republican, said he wants to provide the current level of state funding to public schools, but added the state doesn’t have the money necessary to replace expiring federal stimulus dollars.

“I don’t see how we, with the $500 million budget hole, can do a lot of augmentation really anywhere,” he said.

During the current fiscal year, Kansas schools are receiving approximately $200 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That enabled the state to back out $200 million in state tax revenues and use those dollars to patch other areas of the budget during the recent economic recession.

But for the fiscal year starting July 1, there will be no more federal stimulus funds, so schools will be short $200 million if the state doesn’t replace those monies. Plus, if the state doesn’t step up funding for certain areas of school finance, such as special education, then the state could face hefty federal penalties for failing to maintain school funding levels.

After several rounds of budget cuts, Mark Tallman, a spokesman for the Kansas Association of School Boards, said schools will have to make more cuts, use up cash reserves or raise local revenues through student fees and taxes.

Meanwhile, Tallman said, schools are facing increasing academic standards. “Meeting these challenges will be far more difficult if school budgets are further reduced,” he said.

In another school area, Brownback said during the gubernatorial campaign that he wanted to change the school finance formula.

But on Tuesday he said that will have to wait at least a year. A debate on how school funding is divided between districts statewide would “grab all the oxygen” and detract from working on economic growth and other key issues, he said.

Still, he said, there is room to work on other school proposals for the legislative session that starts next month.

Brownback said he wants to explore ways to get more existing resources into the classroom. One possibility, he said, would be to move funds currently dedicated to school construction to classroom instruction on a temporary basis.

He said he wants to change the public school teacher certification process to allow people with expertise in a particular subject to teach in schools even if they haven’t completed college training as an educator.

Brownback rejects ‘Commitment’

Concerning higher education, Brownback said the money is not there to support the Kansas Commitment plan, which was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents and would require $50 million in additional funding.

He said he would like to reallocate resources within higher education to increase funding for areas directly linked to the economy, such as the Kansas University Medical Center, KU School of Pharmacy, veterinary medicine at Kansas State and aviation at Wichita State. He mentioned that some states are discontinuing degree programs that are graduating small numbers of students and perhaps Kansas colleges should be doing that.

Of the funding increase under the proposed Kansas Commitment, about $20 million would cover inflation over the past several years. Another $15.75 million would be used to restore some of the deferred maintenance funding that legislators approved for schools but eliminated in the last two budgets. The plan would also seek $14 million in state funds for KU, KSU and WSU to address shortages in engineers and medical professionals. Last week, student leaders at the regents schools delivered to Brownback 3,000 postcards signed by students supporting the plan.

Regents Chairman Gary Sherrer said regents members will continue to push for the plan.

“The board’s position has not changed,” Sherrer said. “Through the Kansas Commitment, we’ve provided the governor-elect and the Legislature with targeted investment opportunities that all produce much-needed economic growth,” he said, adding, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Rural tax cut proposed

Brownback also promised to “meet our Medicaid needs.” He said, however, the Medicaid system must be overhauled to more efficiently deliver health care.

On the tax side, he said he will not accept any increases. In fact, he may seek cuts.

He said he will propose waiving personal state income taxes for a 10-year period for people who move to Kansas from out of state and live and work in rural areas. He said he also wants to work with rural counties to set up programs to buy down student loans if the student moves back to the area. He said the state wouldn’t mandate the programs but would partner with willing counties.

And Brownback, a U.S. senator, said he had no presidential ambitions. He ran in the last presidential cycle for the GOP nomination but dropped out early.

“I am not a candidate for president. I am ecstatic about being governor of Kansas,” he said.


Bob Hechlor 7 years, 6 months ago

The only economy that Brownback is concerned with is his wealthy friends, the billionaire Koch Brothers, the ones who will be building another pollution factory coal plant that we don't need. It will be subsidized by taxpayers who will have to pay for all of the costs associated with the pollution it makes. Brownback is a person with an agenda, one that you will never know about. Everything he does is typical republican pro-development which enhances the already well off and will do nothing for the rest of us. The coal plant energy will mostly go out of state and the corporation that runs it will not be paying taxes. They will be excused, like other big corporations, from paying. The citizenry needs to rise up and understand why the scientists did not want the plant and why Sebelius came to realize it was not in the interest of Kansans.

thepianoman 7 years, 6 months ago

So what is it you want him to do for you? The man has values, has a strong work ethic, is wanting to strengthen the Kansas economy, revive smaller, rurual areas, etc, etc. He has goals. He has a vision. LESS GOVERNMENT and LESS SPENDING. That's what he and the rest of the GOP are all about. Here's to conservativism!!!

sourpuss 7 years, 6 months ago

1) A "strong work ethic" is double-speak for "Protestant work ethic." Work does not equate morality. 2) Everyone wants their economy strong - who says that we need to weaken the economy anyway? 3) Romanticizing rural life is not a way to strengthen the economy. Most of those small towns are not viable. Unless you want to break up corporate farms and basically give away ten years of money until those "family" farms are viable, forget it. People should live in cities anyway where their environmental impact is smaller and jobs are more readily available. 4) I'm sure he has a few etc.s in there! Trashing the universities and making sure kids can go to their Christian schools are some of them. 5) All sorts of people, good and bad, have had vision. 6) Less government and less spending means less military, fewer roads, no air traffic control, no FBI, etc. Personally, I want a government to make my environment clean, safe, and easy to live in, sorry. 7) That's why I don't vote for the GOP. 8) None of what you wrote has anything to do with conservatism. Conservatives make sound investments (like in higher education), manage money wisely (unlike the spending spree under Bush), keep out of international wars (unlike the TWO wars under Bush), don't give a fig if some small town survives or not (let the little man take care of himself), they do try to keep a check on the intrusiveness of government into personal lives, and they don't pander to religion. What you're talking about is American right-wing ideology, which is not conservatism. It's a type of theocratic fascism where churches and corporations have the most power and the government is extremely powerful, only in the shadows where the electorate cannot see it. I'll pass, thank you.

indythinker 7 years, 6 months ago

sourpuss- well stated. don't think i could've said it better.

i consider myself a hard-working (1 FT/1 PT job) american and "conservative". i'm quite certain i pay more than my fair share of taxes and i have no problem with that if it means better education for children (which i have none) and better health care for all legal citizens. these are truly investments in our country.

what i have found so frightening is how the whole right wing "conservative" movement has morphed into some political/religious crusade...against "regular" americans...its this "if you ain't with us, then you must be a liberal terriost-luvin socialist." we've spent countless billions in iraq/afghanistan and have nothing to show for it (unless you're a halliburton stockholder)....yet a healtcare plan that would help our very own people is an impossibility to achieve because the propoganda machine fools you to think that the only people who will benefit are the lazy unemployed and illegal immigrants. do you think the server, with 2 kids and a deadbeat ex-husband, on the midnight shift down at perkins has a great affordable health insurance plan?

i used to think being a republican/conservative meant a strict interpretation of the constitution...which protects freedom of religion and provides that no law shall be made respecting the establishment of a religion. yet, they now seem so threatened by anything not evangelical christian. i was taught to love thy neighbor as thyself not "take what i can get, keep the govt. out of my wallet...but if i think someone else is doing something i don't believe in, lets outlaw it....."

anyway, i digress.....

Sinclair Lewis wrote in 1935 "When facism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross."

Paul R Getto 7 years, 6 months ago

rshrink: "Everything he does is typical republican pro-development which enhances the already well off and will do nothing for the rest of us." === Now, now, give him a chance. The SHEEPLE have spoken and voted against their own self interest yet again. We should be used to it by now. This is going to be an interesting legislative session, no doubt about it.

georgeofwesternkansas 7 years, 6 months ago

It is really to bad that for the economy to do well someone has to get rich. I think we should all move to Lawrence so we too could be flower children and smoke dope all day. Maybe have some gay rights.

thatonedude 7 years, 6 months ago

In fairness, the problem is that someone is already rich, and nobody else is getting the chance.

overthemoon 7 years, 6 months ago

Your perception of Lawrence are about 40 years off. That sort of misrepresentation is probably the biggest problem we have, both in the state and nationally. Lets work together without the silliness, ok?

jafs 7 years, 6 months ago

So much for the promise to "protect" education funding.

Anybody who paid attention knew the state couldn't replace the federal money and adequately fund the system while simultaneously cutting taxes.

notanota 7 years, 6 months ago

Of course not. He'll starve the schools of funding for special ed and building repairs and then pass his mess onto the next governor.

notanota 7 years, 6 months ago

Evidence says that subject matter experts are less effective than qualified teachers. There's also not a shortage of fully trained teachers in this state, as far as I know, but hey, let's propose an ineffective solution to a non-existent problem and pretend that we're somehow helping schools in the process!

It's also weird to propose the tax free incentives to moving to rural areas. Think about this. The tax rate - at the highest- is 6.45%. That's nothing, and moving to a rural area is likely to cut my earning potential by much more than 6.45%, even if I can buy a cheaper house out in the boonies. Unless he plans on coupling this idea with magical high paying jobs, I don't see how this will be incentive to anyone who actually works for a living.

begin60 7 years, 6 months ago

He's focused on economic growth for the benefit of whom and at whose expense? Sam Brownback is hardly my favorite charmer.

overthemoon 7 years, 6 months ago

No. Far. Left. In reality its called the center.

jafs 7 years, 6 months ago

Did you notice the part where he promised to "protect" education and social service funding, but is now talking about being unable to fund education?

straightforward 7 years, 6 months ago

Liberals don't want to help the little guy. They want to require the rich to help the little guy because it's not fair for one person to have and one person to have not. If liberals really care about helping the little guy there is nothing stopping them from doing so. Find your favorite charitable organization and donate your money/time. Stop whining and start doing.

What's good for Charles Koch is not good for regular people? So do you not consider all the Kansas working at Koch regular people? If Koch decided to pick up and move the business to another state tomorrow, this state's economy would be in a world of hurt.

Maybe instead of mailing 3,000 postcards, those students should have each sent a check to defray the cost of their already subsidized education.

jafs 7 years, 6 months ago

Any stats on charitable giving broken down by "liberal" and "conservative"?

I'd think that liberals give at least as much, and probably more, to charitable causes than conservatives do.

tomatogrower 7 years, 6 months ago

"Liberals don't want to help the little guy. They want to require the rich to help the little guy because it's not fair for one person to have and one person to have not. If liberals really care about helping the little guy there is nothing stopping them from doing so. Find your favorite charitable organization and donate your money/time. Stop whining and start doing."

Liberals want the supposed "trickle down" theory to start working. I really think that Reagan thought that if the rich and the corporations had more money, they would start paying people more and creating more jobs. But that didn't happen, except creating more jobs overseas, so the rich could pay even less to the workers who make them rich, and get even richer. So the carrot didn't work for the "little guy" who doesn't want charity; the "little guy" wants a decent paying job. By the way, the students' education is being subsidized by the citizens of Kansas, most who care about their community and the future. If you do not want to be a part of a community, why don't you go live in a wilderness somewhere, or in Afghanistan where it's every man for himself. Even the rugged pioneers had to rely on each other to survive.

overthemoon 7 years, 6 months ago

Spewman is a textbook example of a far-right zealot whose desire to see his far-right agenda put into full swing has been torpedoed and is furious and can not hide it. Hateful, bitter and unhinged.

Jonathan Becker 7 years, 6 months ago

The state is $500M in the hole starting out and he is talking about tax cuts??????? There must be a disconnect somewhere in his synapses.

His selection to be his budget director feeds us left-over pablum from the 1980's and the Laffer Curve. Over the past ten years the Gross Domestic Product of Kansas has grown between 2 and 3% every year. If they cut taxes by 10%, in order to make up the difference, the GDP would have to grow by 12% just to bring the State of Kansas back to $500 M in the hole.

This Governor needs to fund education, mainly his own in arithmetic.

BrianR 7 years, 6 months ago

He must be focused on growth in China because cutting American education is going to really help the Chinese completely displace the U.S. as the world's superpower.

overthemoon 7 years, 6 months ago

Just before the election I saw an example of Brownbacks' sense of frugality. In Overland Park, along Metcalf ave. THOUSANDS of election signs. Literally one every 20 feet. For miles. If he can raise so much money to waste on getting elected, maybe he can figure out how to get those campaign donors to put some money where it really matters.

Note a recent article about Colorado Springs, where the taxes are some of the lowest in the country, the bid for a tax raise to pay for basic services failed last year, and they now have the WORST job prospect forecast in the country. Think about that for a while.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Brownback cannot know much about economic growth. Beltway Republicans have proven they are not the economic giants of our time: Meet beltway repub economics:

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Savings and Loan Heist( millions out of work) "There are several ways in which the Bush family plays into the Savings and Loan scandal, which involves not only many members of the Bush family but also many other politicians that are still in office and were part of the Bush Jr. administration.

Jeb Bush, George Bush Sr., and his son Neil Bush have all been implicated in the Savings and Loan Scandal, which cost American tax payers over $1.4 TRILLION dollars (note that this was about one quarter of our national debt").

The Reagan/Bush savings and loan heist was considered the largest theft in history at the time. George Herbert Walker Bush then took $1.4 trillion of taxpayers money to cover the theft.

  1. The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers(millions out of work) Yes, substantial fraud was involved. For example, mortgage companies and banks used deceit to get people to take on mortgages when there was no possibility that the borrowers would be able to meet the payments. Not only was this fraud, but this fraud depended on government authorities(Bush admin) ignoring their regulatory responsibilities."

  2. Only 3 major Financial Institutions were at risk in spite of what we’re told ? "There were just a handful of institutions that were terribly weakened. AIG the insurer, Bank of America and Citigroup, Those three were clearly in very weakened form. Many of the other big banks simply were not.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 6 months ago

How many hundreds of times have you posted this same drivel, merrill?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Brownback is among the tax dollar moochers.

Yes quite a retirement package this man has accumulated complete with taxpayer funded medical insurance for the rest of his life. Yet the taxpayers that fund his medical insurance cannot have their own funded with their own tax dollars.

Something wrong with this picture.

overthemoon 7 years, 6 months ago

Brownback voted no on the money that came to Kansas. He's voting 'no' on the START treaty, with not one comment on the floor to explain why he is siding with those who are ignoring the military, international leaders, the President, the State Department, and every other agency that says 'get it done'. He voted against the Dream act, which was originally a republican proposal. He voted against DADT, with no evidence that the red herring arguments against it had any validity. He and Roberts have voted NO on every bit of legislation that might have helped the country recover more quickly. Except the one for television commercial volume.

Interestingly, on the majority of his 'no' votes, he voted 'yes' for similar funding when bush was in office. Principles? No. Politics? Yes.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 6 months ago

Here's a money-making idea for the state. Change the name to Kochansas, then there will be a boom in new flags, license plates, official stationery, bumper stickers, road signs on the borders, etc. ...................

overthemoon 7 years, 6 months ago

Kansas, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Enterprises.

"To the rich, on the backs of the middle class"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

Republicans have a plan for economic revitalization. They devised it by careful reading of Charles Dickens's novels.

So here's a bit of advice on how to prosper in the coming age-- just memorize this line--

"Please, sir. May I have some more, sir?"

overthemoon 7 years, 6 months ago

"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

tolawdjk 7 years, 6 months ago

I want to provide the current funding for schools, but you know, we can't. So rather than look at that, let's table it for one/two years, write off those students and pick it up fresh later on. I'm just one man and there is sooooo much on my plate right now.

jafs 7 years, 6 months ago


And, do any conservatives notice that he promised to protect education funding, and is already breaking that promise?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 6 months ago

Dang, a lot of people are all cranky and need naps today.

guess_again 7 years, 6 months ago

How funny. He wants to support rural economic development by giving away rural counties tax revenues which are already flat or declining to attract people.

How generous of him. I am sure there will be at least several dozen rural county commissioners gagging when they learn of this.

pace 7 years, 6 months ago

His plan to attract people to Kansas, Don't invest in Kansas education system. Then any good job will go to people educated in states that did invest in education. They will be offered jobs and will come to Kansas, Now don't get all excited a lot won't come because they will have kids and they will want a good education system for them. Kansas businesses and government will need skilled people. If we don't raise our own crop we can import.

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