Topeka Democratic leaders on Monday criticized Gov. Sam Brownback for telling a national audience that the Kansas budget went from deficit to surplus without a tax increase or cuts to school funding.
"These statements are just blatantly wrong," said House Minority Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence.
Davis said when he read the prepared text of Brownback's Saturday radio address, "I sort of had to wonder if Sam Brownback has his head in the clouds."
Brownback delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama's weekly radio address.
In the speech, Brownback said Washington, D.C., was broke and should follow the examples of economic changes brought about in states, such as Kansas, led by Republican governors.
Brownback said, “The year I became governor, the state began the fiscal year with just $876.05 in the bank — less than $1,000 and it projected a $500 million deficit. Two years later we had a $500 million ending balance — and did it without tax increases.
“Now to make that financial turnaround a reality, we didn’t cut state funding to schools, we didn’t cut state funding for our universities and colleges, we didn’t cut state funding for our Medicaid system, we didn’t cut state funding for our prisons," he said.
Davis said the turnaround happened because of two reasons: Brownback benefited by the one-cent state sales tax increase that was approved before he became governor, and he cut funding to public education "by the largest amount in the state's history." In 2011, Brownback and Republicans in the Legislature cut $232 per pupil in base state aid.
Brownback's office said that even with the increase in the state sales tax, the state still faced a projected $500 million because of the end of federal stimulus funding.