Archive for Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kansas revenue department refuses Journal-World’s request for information about tax reform group

December 1, 2011, 10:51 a.m. Updated December 1, 2011, 2:31 p.m.


In response to a request for tax policy records, Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration said even if it has the records, it doesn’t have to release them.

On Oct. 11, the Lawrence Journal-World made a request under the Kansas Open Records Act for access to or copies of minutes, agendas and policy papers of a group that has been working in private to prepare a tax policy recommendation for Brownback.

Kansas Department of Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan is heading the effort to give recommendations to Brownback. When given the newspaper’s request, the Revenue Department said it would need some time to respond to the “extensive nature of your request,” but promised to respond by Nov. 30.

A Nov. 29 letter from Jeannine Koranda, public information officer with the Revenue Department, said no records would be forthcoming.

“To the extent that we have any records called for by your request, they are exempt from disclosure pursuant to K.S.A. 45-221(a)(2), (20),” the letter stated.

That part of the Kansas Open Records law provides an exemption to the law that includes, “Notes, preliminary drafts, research data in the process of analysis, unfunded grant proposals, memoranda, recommendations or other records in which opinions are expressed or policies or actions are proposed, except that this exemption shall not apply when such records are publicly cited or identified in an open meeting or in an agenda of an open meeting.”

Brownback’s stated intention to overhaul the state tax code has generated a lot of interest and speculation. In past statements, Brownback has said he wants to reduce or eliminate the state income tax as a way to grow the economy. This idea has prompted concerns from some about how the state would fund education, social services and public safety.

Jordan has talked about a task force working on the tax proposal, but has provided few details. Earlier this year, it appeared the plan would be unveiled before the end of the year.

But now the governor’s office has said Brownback’s proposal probably won’t be outlined until his State of the State address to the Legislature, which is scheduled for Jan. 11.

Koranda has said senior Revenue Department staff members Richard Cram, head of policy and research, and Steve Stotts, director of taxation, have been consulted on the proposal. She said Republican leaders of the House and Senate tax committees had been consulted.

But she has declined to name any businesspeople who are working with the task force.

The only person outside state government who has been named to the task force working on a recommendation for Brownback is Arthur Laffer, who had served as a key economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan. Laffer espouses cutting taxes for corporations and top-income earners as a way to grow the economy through increased jobs.

Laffer, who is being paid $75,000 as a consultant on the Kansas tax proposal, helped write the latest edition of “Rich States, Poor States” for the American Legislative Exchange Council. Brownback wrote the forward to the ALEC report.


Ockhams_Razor 6 years ago

Making tax policy in secret.

Why not just give the Koch's the keys and title to the Capitol?


ignatius_j_reilly 6 years ago

This shouldn't be a political issue. Any government wishing to conduct meetings in secret is doing something the public doesn't want done. I'm equally pissed off by liberals and conservatives who deny FOIA requests.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

So, consumer1, you believe in taxation without representation? We elect officials to do this job. We elected you, Brownback. We have not privatized your job.

chootspa 6 years ago

So you believe the government should be opaque and make all decisions behind closed doors?

Bob Forer 6 years ago

Had consumer lived during the revolutionary war, he would have served as a traitor for the British.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years ago

Transparency shouldn't be a partisan issue. I am hardly among the left, but I believe in open government. Having experienced the inordinate delays of FOIA requests first hand, I am all for pushing this sort of issue.

Armored_One 6 years ago

How much debt does the Koch brothers, and the companies under their direct or indirect control, carry?

Walmart recorded 13 billion dollars in profit last year, but the fact that they carried 8 billion dollars in debt due to various loans when vastly under reported.

If you want to bash someone, at least provide all the information so an informed opinion can be reached, not just a knee-jerk reaction.

Please have a nice day.

deec 6 years ago

So I guess the wallys should have paid off their debt and only had 5 billion in profit. Who cares how much the Kochs owe? Their wealth doubled. They are the 5th and 6th richest people in the U.S.

Armored_One 6 years ago

If their debt was to be called, what do you think would happen to the companies that are under their direct or indirect control. Deec?

Look past the tip of your nose and try to keep your knee still. A vague guesstimate would be well over 50,000 jobs that would immediately be put in jeopardy if that debt was called. I'm 99% sure that number is vastly under the actual total.

But I suppose that doesn't matter in light of your campaign.

FlintHawk 6 years ago

So what can LJW do now? Is there any recourse? Is there any way to get those records and find out what's going to hit us before it does?

Doesn't Kansas have a "Sunshiine Rule" that covers these types of clandestine meetings? Can the governor legally hold such meetings in camera?

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years ago

They can file suit. Hopefully they will.

1983Hawk 6 years ago

"except that this exemption shall not apply when such records are publicly cited ..."

Bzzzt. The administration loses. Since they've been running around talking publicly for months about the ultimate work product of this task force, their Open Records Act exemption claim is therefore prima facie bogus.

Hope the Lawrence Journal World continues to pursue this. A faster route than going to court would be to ask the Attorney General to file a writ of mandamus (an action compelling public officials to do their duty under the law) ordering the immediate release of the records now that the waiting period has expired and the administration has had the full amount of time authorized to respond. (And this bogus exemption claim was the best their legal eagles could concoct?)

gudpoynt 6 years ago

ah, but nothing has been cited has it? Note that citing is different than merely mentioning.

I suppose that any (remaining) records will be available after the SOTS address Jan 11, if and when Brownback makes his proposals.

I suppose the idea is to keep a lid on what's going on in an effort to minimize public opposition until the ball is already swiftly rolling in the direction of whatever recommendations are about to be made.

If I were a Dem legislator, I'd see what I can do to put the breaks on immediately after the SOTS address, because Brownback and the Repubs are going to hit the ground running.

FlintHawk 6 years ago

Thank you!! I hoped there was legislation like that.

itwasthedukes 6 years ago

Activist in the media! Too bad your curiosity ends when democrats are in office.

verity 6 years ago

How is investigative journalism "Activist in the media"? I may be wrong, but I thought that was the medias job.

FlintHawk 6 years ago

Errr,,,,Upon what factual basis do you claim that ignatius_j_reilly's "curiosity ends when democrats [sic] are in office"? It seems to me that elected officials of all stripes are appropriately monitored. Isn't that the way a republic is supposed to work? Shame on you and others who make erroneous, nonfactual sometimes scary statements. That has become all to common, and It undermines our democracy and Americans' understanding of good government.

verity 6 years ago

"She said Republican leaders of the House and Senate tax committees had been consulted." No representation from the Democrats?

"The only person outside state government who has been named to the task force working on a recommendation for Brownback is Arthur Laffer, who had served as a key economic adviser to President Reagan. Laffer espouses cutting taxes for corporations and top-income earners as a way to grow the economy through increased jobs."

Oh, yes, that good ol' trickle down theory espoused by the Reagan administration. It has been proven to work so well.

1983Hawk 6 years ago

LOL at all the pliant tools coming on here talking about the "liberal left" and accusing the media of having an agenda. I'm just 100 percent sure they'd be similarly dismissive of the public's right to know if Fixed News had filed for open records but were denied by some outrageously bogus exemption claim from Obama.

Yes, it's all about principle. Right, boys?

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

Wow. The more I hear the more glad I am that I'm getting out of this state. Keep it up, BB, and someday you'll have your own version of the Teapot Dome scandal. Recall now! And just for Sherrie's benefit, #heblowsalot.

lawslady 6 years ago explains the open records law.
Short of filing a law suit, the LJW can also file a complaint with the Attorney General's office.

The (a)(2) exception applies to allow documents to be closed if they are subject to the rules of evidence protections. Like attorney client; which requires that the documents involve an attorney for the person/entities being advised or seeking advice.

The (a)(20) exception allows (does not require) closure of inter-office dicussions on any topic (policy formation included). However, if this TASK FORCE are not the Governor's staff, but rather a PUBLIC BODY subject to the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA), documents they reviewed at their meetings become open.
See for info on the KOMA.

vuduchyld 6 years ago

Welcome to Brownbackistan, it's where Kansas used to be Welcome to Brownbackistan, it's our new theocracy! Brownback and Koch call all the shots, we're governed by the rich The wealthy all get wealthier and the rest can all eat $%#

the video:

Steve Bunch 6 years ago

Brownback wrote the "foreword," not the "forward." (Perhaps he should have written the "backward.")

1983Hawk 6 years ago

ROFLMAO. Gudpoynt asserts that there's an important distinction between citing and mentioning. We eagerly await his "citing" of Kansas case law precedent on this point. While he's at it, he can "mention" from which law school he received his Juris Doctor.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

what i meant was, there's a difference between writing an article about these meetings, and claiming that something was actually said within them. The former being a "mention", the latter being a "citation".

If they've been "running around talking publicly for months about the ultimate work product of this task force", then where have they been doing this? Have they disclosed to the media what they are discussing? Has anything in the closed-door meetings been cited in an open meeting? What do you mean by "ultimate work product", and where has it been published?

I agree though. The exemption kind of takes the teeth out of FOI. It's kind of saying, everything is available to anybody, unless it's not, in which case, it is exempt from public access, until it is made public.

1983Hawk 6 years ago

Where have they been doing this? It was not only cited in a public meeting, specific comments about the plan and how great is supposed to be were leaked to the press by Brownback himself as well as the revenue secretary as trial balloons.

Check the archives for any number of examples. From September 13, for openeners

Topeka — Gov. Sam Brownback's administration is close to unveiling a proposal to reduce state income taxes, officials said Tuesday.

Working behind the scenes with a group of businessmen and economists, Kansas Department of Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said the proposal is exciting and will cause other states to say "Wow."

Jordan didn't release any details but said it would help small businesses and individual taxpayers. He said the proposal would not be a copy of tax policy in Texas or Florida, but is designed to help the Kansas economy grow.

Brownback said he wants an aggressive and responsible restructuring of state tax policy. "Get the rates down, broaden the base," he said.

1983Hawk 6 years ago

The bottom line is, if the LJW proceeds to contest the prima facie bogus exemption claim, the administration would get laughed out of court. And then you guys on here can all go after the "activist" judge.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

Arthur Laffer, of Laffer Curve fame?

Great. Just great.

cowboy 6 years ago

Let me get my head wrapped around this.....

KochBack and his secret cronies are writing tax policy which will have an effect on every Kansan , the health of the State economy , and doing this in secret with no disclosure to the public whom he serves.

When called out he refuses disclose this information . What are you hiding this time Sam?

Might you be aware that you should be doing the peoples business in open forums subject to feedback and scrutiny. If your proposals are too sleazy to survive the sunlight what does that tell you ?

Your admin cannot go three days without stepping in a pile of poop .

Please resign , join a monastery or a cult or some obscure family in Washington and leave Kansas alone.

Monitor that Sontag

gudpoynt 6 years ago

Kudos to the LJW.

Brownback & KDOR won't cough up the info you need to do the story completely... then make THAT the story.

LHS56 6 years ago

ok...would have thought you would know better. Get really to be called to the Principal's office for such badmouthing our Governor. will probably stand behind the First like the 18 year old girl did. Wouldn't work this time. Brownie is prepared! (eagle scout you know...g)

jayhawkinsf 6 years ago

Isn't this what the courts are for, to resolve disputes between two parties who each feels as if they interpreting the law correctly, yet they have reached different conclusions? If the LJW or anybody else want the information through the freedom of information act and the governor refuses, go to court and file the appropriate request.

jayhawkinsf 6 years ago

While that might sound good, there might be legitimate reasons for not doing such. Perhaps if several staff members were just throwing out ideas, brainstorming back and forth, as people might do. Releasing that would make the government look like a bunch of incompetents. Businesses might not want to do business with them and certainly their political opponents would use that for their own political advantage. For what, throwing ideas back and forth? Maybe that's why the law was written as such, to include some items and exclude others, with the courts there to resolve disputes.

thebigspoon 6 years ago

..."would make the govenment look like a bunch of incompetents." DUH!

Agree with your sentiments, in the "what if" case, but this government had better get its act together soon, because they are already looking jsut as you said.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

They'd only look like idiots for "throwing ideas back and forth" if the ideas thrown were idiotic.

And doesn't the public have a right to know that?

JustNoticed 6 years ago

There is more correct about Karl Marx than there is about that trickle down nonsense.

thebigspoon 6 years ago

The difference is that Sebelius did nothing as outrageously stupid and un-democratic, day in and day out, as Brownback. Plus, she had no religious agenda to push, plus, she attempted to work with the citizenry rather than against it, plus on and on and on. Your real issue, math, is that you hate it when your pets are put to the test of public scrutiny, as they well should be, and are found woefully lacking. Tell me, math, just exactly what has the Brownback administration done that it said it would do? We don't have job numbers in the plus, we don't have a workable school finance program that actually addresses the students, we have a bogus illegal alien fight going on, we have an unneeded and wasteful voter registration law that will do nothing but eliminate some voters (not all Democrats), and on and on and on.

As to Rothschild, he has reported for years and has never shown an ounce of discrimination in his unveiling of either party's idiocies. Your wish that to pin the blame ono another is just hogwash. And I'll eat your hat if you can find one single story in which he pulled any punches in outing stupidities of the Democrats or Sebelius.

deec 6 years ago

Or maybe your crush is much more corrupt and blatant in being bought and paid for.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

Possible if Sebelius had defunded the Kansas Arts Commission, tried to hire a putz with a fake degree, intimidated a young girl for telling, holding secret tax reform meetings with people that are either unethical or just plain stupid, and doing any other umber of bizarre acts after being in office for less than one year there might have been some more things to write about. As it stands, Sam #heblowsalot has nobody to blame for his negative press other than the person looking back at him in the mirror. If people in Kansas don't get out and riot in the streets after Sam tries to ram this screw job down out throats I will lose all hope for this state.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

Sebelius also didn't have a rubber stamp state congress backing her up to do any stupid half witted thing she could dream up. Any stupid idea that crosses Gov heblowsalot's pointy little head has a great chance of making it into law. You are an absolute ideologically bent moron if you can't understand what's difference with Sam.

OnAir 6 years ago

Governor Sebelius undertook all her transition planning in secret and refused to disclose it; she was increasingly defundung the Kansas Arts Commission while in office, and destroyed records subject of a criminal prosecution. Imagine what we would know if someone reviewed her record critically?

cowboy 6 years ago

Yep , give him a big fat raise

If a Kochroach was in the statehouse , and no one saw it , was he really there

JayhawkFan1985 6 years ago

This is all part of the great leap backward planned by Brownback, the Koch brothers, and others in the republican party. God help us all...

JayhawkFan1985 6 years ago

Their attitude is, "there are only so many seats at the table." they can't let just anyone sit at "their" table.

JustNoticed 6 years ago

Riot? What will they say, bahhhhh bahh?

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

"said even if it has the records, it doesn’t have to release them."

Is there a question as to whether or not the group has records after meeting several times? Is this group shredding the data?

Nice to have the "beltway influence" installed at Topeka...

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