Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday denied his proposed tax plan was being formed in secret, and admitted that he has asked a corporate restructuring group to meet with Kansas officials to come up with ways to make state government more efficient and less costly.
On tax policy, Brownback said he has been traveling across the state meeting with numerous groups in public settings and getting input on the state's tax laws.
"This is not being developed clandestinely," he said.
A task force putting together the tax plan is working Kansas Department of Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan. The task force's meetings have been private, and the Brownback administration has declined to reveal the identity of some of its members.
Brownback's office said the tax plan will be unveiled next month and sent to the Legislature for consideration when the 2012 session starts in January.
Brownback also said that he asked representatives of The Blackstone Group "for input" on ways to reduce state spending. He said the state is not paying Blackstone anything.
He said he has asked for input from many different groups on ways state government can become more efficient because, he said, federal dollars to the state will be shrinking over the next few years.
Earlier this month, in response to inquiries from the Lawrence Journal-World, Brownback's office said Blackstone had not been hired to work on the governor's behalf. But Blackstone representatives have met with officials from Kansas University and other schools and are preparing a report for Brownback, according to higher education officials.
Brownback's comments Friday were made in a brief question and answer period with reporters following a news conference in which he spoke about his recent trip to Russia and Kazakhstan.
Brownback went on the 12-day tour with Kansas Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman and beef producers from across the state. The visit focused on growing the market for Kansas beef genetics and agriculture products in the region.
Both Brownback and Rodman said the trip was a success and will help the Kansas economy through expanded trade. The trip was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Market Access Program funding.