Topeka Topeka (ap) — The Kansas Senate’s new budget committee chairman filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and listed nearly $885,000 in unsecured debts in a federal court filing stemming from problems at his former home-building business.
Other incoming Senate leaders nonetheless defended Sen. Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, following his selection Tuesday as Ways and Means Committee chairman. The Wichita Eagle reported that Masterson said he’s working to pay off his debts, though they were discharged this year.
As chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Masterson is at the center of budget discussions. A GOP leadership panel picked him, and he and other incoming Senate leaders will begin their jobs when the 2013 session starts in mid-January.
Masterson said he understands that some might question his appointment because of the bankruptcy. But he said it gives him a personal perspective on the tough economic times.
“Who better to lead out of the forest than somebody who has seen a lot of the pitfalls?” he said.
Kansas faces a projected $295 million gap between anticipated revenues and existing spending commitments for the fiscal year beginning in July 2013. The shortfall is tied to massive income tax cuts enacted this year to stimulate the economy, which Masterson supported.
Incoming Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita said Masterson has “tremendous credibility with his peers.” New Majority Leader Terry Bruce of Hutchinson said none of the nine members of the leadership panel — who include Wagle and Bruce — saw the bankruptcy as an issue.
Masterson served four years in the House before winning his Senate seat in 2008. He was re-elected this year without opposition.
“Everybody has faith in his ability to bring forward a good product to the Senate floor,” Bruce said.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, said Masterson was the logical choice for the chairmanship, given that conservative Republicans ousted the chamber’s previous moderate GOP leaders in this year’s elections. Masterson was the only conservative on the Ways and Means Committee this year.
“He’s a quick study in terms of the budget,” Hensley said.
Masterson said the bankruptcy was linked to the 2006 failure of a business, Masterbuilt Homes, and his problems started with an employee’s mismanagement and unauthorized charges.
The senator and his wife filed for bankruptcy in December 2010 under a chapter of federal bankruptcy law that allows individuals or businesses to liquidate their debts. They listed $304,100 in assets, including their $270,000 home, and nearly $1.13 million in debts, including more than $243,000 on their home’s mortgage.
Masterson owed Corner Bank $209,000 and Emprise Bank $53,890 in commercial loans. He and his wife also listed more than $160,000 in revolving credit card debt. But the filing said the debts were not primarily consumer obligations.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court records available online show that Masterson’s debts were discharged in late April and the case was closed in August, two days after the state’s primary election.