Journal-World seeks information on Brownback tax policy group

The Lawrence Journal-World has filed a request under state law to Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration for information about a task force that meets secretly and is preparing a tax policy recommendation for Brownback.

In an Oct. 11 email, the Journal-World requested access or copies of minutes, agendas and policy papers of the task force.

The Brownback administration wrote in a letter dated Oct. 12, and received in the mail Oct. 15, that it may take up to seven weeks to respond to the newspaper’s request.

“Due to the extensive nature of your request, additional time will be needed to search files, to determine the existence of any such records, to contact personnel who may have possession of said requested records, to determine the applicability of any exceptions to the Open Records Act, and to determine the cost of producing the copies which can be provided pursuant to the Open Records Act. Therefore, the Department will communicate with you not later than November 30, 2011, regarding its response to your request,” said the letter signed by Christy Weiler, Records Custodian with the Kansas Department of Revenue states.

Kansas Department of Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan is heading the effort to give recommendations to Brownback by the end of the year. Jordan has said a task force is near completion of its task.

When Jordan’s office was asked to provide names of those serving on the task force and other details, the office provided little information.

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

But she declined to name any business people 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 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.

Last week, Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he would form a bi-partisan committee, including public members, to study options for reducing taxes. “Right now, there are a lot of ideas being floated around, but what they all seem to be missing is citizen input,” Morris said. “This isn’t something that should be done behind closed doors by a bunch of bureaucrats.”