Topeka When Sam Brownback was a freshman in the U.S. House, his legislative director was a 25-year-old from Wisconsin who already had several years under his belt as a congressional staffer and speechwriter for Republicans in Washington, D.C.
On Saturday, that former Brownback staffer, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, was picked by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to run as vice president, challenging President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Brownback released a quick statement, praising the selection of Ryan.
"For three years, Paul worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Kansas; apart from his native Wisconsin, no state has benefited more from his talents," Brownback said. "Paul has the vision, experience and character to help bring America back," he added.
Ryan, 42, served as legislative director on Brownback's staff in Congress from 1995-1997 when Brownback was a House member and then successfully ran for the U.S. Senate. In 1998, Ryan ran for Congress and won.
Ryan, in his seventh term in Congress and chair of the House Budget Committee, has proposed trillions of dollars in cuts to federal spending in programs such as Medicaid, food stamps and student loans. He has proposed overhauling Medicare in a way that future seniors would receive government checks to purchase health insurance instead of the current system where the government directly pays health care providers.
While Brownback praised Ryan, the governor has in the past crossed swords with Romney. In 2007, Brownback ran for the GOP nomination for president and said Romney had supported pro-abortion policies. U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona won the GOP nomination and then lost to President Barack Obama. During the Republican Party presidential campaign this year, Brownback endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose candidacy failed.
A spokeswoman for Brownback said the governor has endorsed Romney for president.
Kansas Democratic Party Chair Joan Wagnon criticized the choice of Ryan, saying his and Brownback's vision of cutting taxes for wealthy corporations will hurt the middle class.
Brownback recently signed into law tax cuts that will reduce state income tax rates and eliminate income taxes on non-wage income for approximately 191,000 business owners.
Brownback says the cuts will stimulate the economy, but Democrats and some Republicans say the cuts will eliminate revenue for schools, social services and public safety.
"Everyone in Kansas needs to pay their fair share, including, and especially, wealthy corporations," Wagnon said. "We need to set better priorities and be financially responsible. Sam Brownback and Paul Ryan's attempts to eliminate/lower their taxes is the wrong priority; and it makes it harder on our working families," she said.