Archive for Wednesday, January 12, 2011

State of State Address: Brownback says he will focus on economy

Education budget topic of debate

Gov. Sam Brownback gave his first State of the State address Wednesday evening. Brownback said his top priority is helping improve the state economy.

January 12, 2011, 6:29 p.m. Updated January 12, 2011, 8:50 p.m.


This word cloud was created using text from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's 2011 State of the State address. The larger the font, the more often the word was used.

This word cloud was created using text from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's 2011 State of the State address. The larger the font, the more often the word was used.

This word cloud was created using text from the Democratic response to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's 2011 State of the State address. The larger the font, the more often the word was used in the response.

This word cloud was created using text from the Democratic response to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's 2011 State of the State address. The larger the font, the more often the word was used in the response.

Related document

State of the State transcript ( .PDF )

Related document

State of the State Democratic response ( .PDF )

— Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday said that growing the Kansas economy would be his first priority and that tax cuts and investments in higher education would be a large part of that effort.

But Democratic leaders dissected Brownback’s State of the State address and said his budget plan, which will be unveiled today, will result in a funding cut to public education.

Brownback, a Republican who took office Monday, also recommended further restrictions on abortion, and vowed to make more state budget cuts.

On abortion, he said, “I call on the Legislature to bring to my desk legislation that protects the unborn, establishing a culture of life in Kansas.”

On state government, he promised a realignment that would do away with eight state agencies, although he didn’t say which ones, and the elimination of 2,000 unfilled positions.

“The days of ever expanding government are over,” he said. It was a phrase he repeated three times, and he said he planned to cut total state funding by $750 million.

Potential cuts

Greatly outnumbered in the Legislature, Democrats said that they needed more details from Brownback, but that it appeared Brownback’s budget proposals will reduce funding to public schools and other areas.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence said Democrats will not support a budget that results in larger class sizes, teacher and para-professional layoffs, increased tuition, more waiting lists for the disabled, and elimination of critical public safety programs. Davis noted that over the past two years, legislators had already cut approximately $1 billion because of the recession.

Jane Carter, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, cautioned against more state employee cuts, saying that eliminating unfilled positions “was a slippery slope that jeopardizes our state hospital, correctional facilities and state agencies.”

Brownback said his plan to create jobs would include eliminating corporate tax subsidies benefiting a few companies but allowing Kansas businesses to deduct a higher percentage of the cost of investment. The National Federation of Independent Business-Kansas hailed the proposal, saying it would allow a state income tax deduction on new business machinery and equipment.

Brownback also said he wants to reset the tax code and provide state income tax waivers to people from out-of-state who relocate to rural areas of Kansas.

Higher education

On higher education, Brownback proposed a three-year, $105 million initiative to grow economic sectors, such as cancer research, engineering, animal health and aviation. But the universities would have to come up with half of that funding by raising private funds or reallocating their current resources.

“Great educations grow great futures. Yet our public universities have suffered severe cuts and stagnant rankings at a time when the Kansas economy needs better-educated students and ascending universities,” Brownback said.

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little praised Brownback’s comments and looked forward to working with him.

“The vision Gov. Brownback set out for higher education should be encouraging to all Kansans,” Gray-Little said.

But state Reps. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, and Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said they needed more information on his plans.

“We need the details,” Ballard said, referring to Brownback’s proposal for higher ed that would require a 50 percent match from the universities.

Sloan agreed, saying, “Where do you take those monies from? The devil is going to be in the details.”

Public schools and energy

Brownback said his proposed budget would increase state funding for public schools, but he didn’t say by how much. He has said in the past, however, that he won’t replace $200 million in expiring federal stimulus funds for schools, which would result in a nearly $300 education funding cut in base state aid for each student in Kansas.

Democrats said not replacing those federal funds amounts to a cut to public schools and could lead to local property tax increases.

On energy, Brownback said “we will build” the 895-megawatt coal-burning electric power plant in southwest Kansas, but he also said Kansas needs more wind energy projects.

“I want Kansas to be known as not only the Wheat State, but also the Renewable State,” he said.

Brownback also pledged to fight the federal health care law and said Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will start an effort to remake Medicaid. And he called on the Legislature to work on fixing the unfunded liability in the public pension system.


LJ Whirled 7 years ago

No! Please! Don't cut the State Board of Barbering! No! (p.s. - there really IS a State Board of Barbering. They have Special Investigators.)

CreatureComforts 7 years ago

They should fine any barber willing to give a bowl cut, mullet or rat tail...that should help the deficit just fine.

kugrad 7 years ago

Remember that the legislature, in violation of the Federal directives that went with the TARP monies, cut State funding for education about the same amount as they were going to receive from the federal government. So, they failed to allow the stimulus effect of saving jobs that money was intended to produce. Now they will act like restoring the level of funding they provided prior to the one-shot federal funding is an "increase" in funding. In actuality, it would be the same level as before. Failing to increase state funding amounts to a cut of $200 million in education funding. The legislature completed not one, but three comprehensive studies which THEY directed to determine the actual cost of providing an adequate education to students KG-12 in Kansas. They went "down to counting each pencil and piece of paper" and made quite a fuss. They found that the levels needed were FAR FAR below what is being spent today. So, they are quite aware that schools are underfunded, but they put their own re-election status above the needs of our state.

littlexav 7 years ago

TARP is not the same as ARRA.

But I agree - it's not fair for some of the legislators to call foul; they've had two sessions to find a solution, and they've been sitting on their thumbs. A year or two of stiff medicine while we get back on our feet will be good for us - parents should be making up for at home what students miss at school in the first place.

Dan Thalmann 7 years ago

LJW needs to add a "like" button ala Facebook. Because I like littlexav's comment.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

The problem with "austerity" measures is that they are almost all directed at those who have the least ability to just "tough it out."

But if you're the Koch brothers, "austerity" means getting your cake, and eating it, too.

farva 7 years ago

be willing to bet the water office is moved to KDHE which is then merged with KDWP to form a DNR as other states have. Dept of Ag could be included, eliminating 2 agencies, and creating one huge one.

Kookamooka 7 years ago

I would have liked Brownback's speech writer to have included a statement like this..."And I promise to take away every woman's right to choose how to manage her body. Women are not to be trusted with their own decisions about their reproductive health. I promise to recreate the culture of fear and back alley abortions by untrained people in unsanitary conditions no matter how many teenaged girls lives it takes." Big roar of applause from Republicans in the galley.

livinginlawrence 7 years ago

"Maybe you libs should try personal responsibility some time and stop blaming everyone else for you sorry lives - or lack of"

WOW. So who is it exactly that you are addressing with this comment? I understand that the world becomes much simpler to analyze when you break the population into labelled groups (such as the "libs" to which you refer). However, one day you may realize that people have all sorts of different ideas and ways of looking at problems, but still face many of the same difficulties in life....this includes unplanned, unwanted pregnancies that so often result in terrible outcomes.

gudpoynt 7 years ago

birth control pills, sponges, condoms -- these are all measures advocated by organizations such as Planned Parenthood -- "organizations that support abortion rights" as dubbed by that conservative principles list circulating in the legislature right now.

The new legislature aims to undermine these organizations in an effort to establish a "culture of life", as our Guv-nuh says.

littlexav 7 years ago


because there's no such thing as rape.

gudpoynt 7 years ago

haha! Really? Maybe because it's taboo in many conservative circles. It is a thing not to be talked about.

You put the "rant" in "ignorant".

Dan Thalmann 7 years ago

Mj, I would edit your edited speech to "And I promise to take away every woman's right to kill unborn babies. No human should be allowed the decision to kill a helpless human."

MyName 7 years ago

Maybe they can invent time travel while they are at it.

Glenn Reed 7 years ago

They used to do that in China. Women would be given an compulsory abortion during their second pregnancy, and be sterilized to ensure zero population growth.

But anyway, you're just venting. I mean, we would never consider such a barbaric policy, right?


melott 7 years ago

Looks like he is putting himself in charge of deciding what kind of research needs to be done.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Brownback continues the Republican tactic of conflating corporate welfare with economic development anywhere in this country.

Sure, the Koch brothers, et al, will get lots of additional tax breaks from Brownback, but anyone who thinks that's going to do anything to create jobs in Kansas, I know of a bridge.....

littlexav 7 years ago

he's closing loopholes but expanding depreciation incentives to encourage investment.

that sounds like a perfectly reasonable solution to me.

Centerville 7 years ago

It would be insane to move the Water Office to KDHE, certainly not before KDHE is cleaned out.

tolawdjk 7 years ago

"Brownback also said he wants to reset the tax code and provide state income tax waivers to people from out-of-state who relocate to rural areas of Kansas."

And thus, making state approved illegal immigrants.

It worked for Catherine the Great because no one was living on the Volga in the first place. But walk into any cafe west of Victoria and ask the old timers if their father/grandfather considered themselves to be Germans or Russian.

A population "bribed" to move somewhere does not become a part of that community until they feel they have some ownership of that community. You can't have ownership until you pay for something.

Dan Thalmann 7 years ago

Very interesting take on this topic. Now that I think about it (and I live in a small, rural Kansas community), many of the West Coasters who moved here still consider themselves Californians/Oregonians/etc. and not Kansans. Take away the duty of taxes and they have even less local impetus to become one of us.

jafs 7 years ago

Will he keep his promise to protect education funding?

Hard to tell, but if he doesn't replace the stimulus money, it seems extremely unlikely, since that was propping up the education funding.

yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

I am far from a Brownback fan, but so far he has mostly avoided polarizing rhetoric and culture war terminology (except the "days of ever-expanding government are over" applause line).

I like that he laid out goals. It will be interesting to see the details about what will be cut and where money will be found for his priorities.

So far he is behaving like a problem-solving pragmatist. We'll see how ong that lasts, as this must be infuriating the rabid right-wing supporters that helped put him in office.

Paul R Getto 7 years ago

Smoke and mirrors are what we expect from leaders in either party. It's part of the drill and how they keep the sheeple quiet. In reality, outside the bookkeeping tricks, the school funding formula will reduce base funding to the level we saw in about 1994.

irvan moore 7 years ago

if BGL is for it, i'm against it, he wants to defund education for Kansans and she thinks it's great?

Paul R Getto 7 years ago

Correction; the level is more like the 1999 funding base aid per pupil.

Adrienne Sanders 7 years ago

How are we supposed to have better educated students in the universities if you cut the heck out of public schools? I guess such students are going to have to come from out of state...?

MyName 7 years ago

I think the way this is heading, they will probably raise the entrance standards at the Universities and funnel everyone else who doesn't make the new standards into the community colleges. Of course, that's assuming they have a plan at all.

CreatureComforts 7 years ago

Yep, him and every other politician in this country, and most of the world at that.

Chris Golledge 7 years ago

I'm having trouble reconciling these statements:

"I call on the Legislature ..., establishing a culture..."


“The days of ever expanding government are over,”

Chris Golledge 7 years ago


"On energy, Brownback said “we will build” the 895-megawatt coal-burning electric power plant..."

So, how is this related to energy for Kansas since most of it is guaranteed to go elsewhere?

And why does a political figure or party take such a keen interest in the outcome of this when as far as KS is concernd, it pertains more to corporate profitability than anything else?

gudpoynt 7 years ago

Yes Guv-nuh, the economy is important. Of course it is. On that we can all agree.

But if you don't prioritize adequate funding for public education as defined by the KS supreme court in the previous lawsuit, the legislature will be sure to face another one.

Unless of course the legislature were to pass a law that would: "Prohibit taxpayer funding of lobbyists and lawsuits against Kansas for additional state funding."

Yes, this comes from that list of conservative goals being passed around by conservative legislators.

Could it have anything to do with preventing state school districts challenging the constitutionality of education funding?

The courts have already decided in favor of the school districts once, much to conservative legislator's collective chagrin. It stands to reason that the courts would rule similarly should another lawsuit be filed.

If you can't fire the judges, and you can't get them to change their ruling, then how about trying to prevent the lawsuit from happening in the first place? Sounds like good political maneuvering to me!

LiKilroy 7 years ago

I hope he starts a voucher program so parents can choose where they want to send their kids. Many find the public schools just not filled with teachers who know how to teach. It would be nice if he would follow the path of New Jersey’s governor and have the teachers unions make some changes to help out too.

pace 7 years ago

He will close the state hospital for developmentally disabled, transferring the patients to community group homes. Problem is , they have already transferred all the kids they could to community groups homes. Those left, between a hundred and two hundred, are such special needs they would either drain the resources of the community homes or would die without special care. It transfers the costs to counties, often the cost will be higher compared to utilizing the programs built up over decades at KNI. tragic and mean.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Vouchers will increase the cost of K-10 education = increase in taxes. There is no solid evidence that private schools improve education. And private schools are not required to accept students they don't want.

In the last 20 some years Kansas republicans simply do not have great history in economic growth.

Facist neoconservatives don't have handsome history regarding building economies. They have plenty of history in wrecking economies and millions upon millions of jobs.... with Sen. Brownback watching over and doing nothing :




What is the plan?

Where are the details?

How much will whatever action Brownback follows increase our taxes?

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