Posts tagged with Brownback
Brownback remains undecided on Medicaid expansion; supports adult stem cell center; declines to state position on drug testing welfare recipients and relaxing renewable energy standards
Topeka — Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday said he hasn't made up his mind on whether Kansas should opt in to a federally funded expansion of Medicaid, but he expressed concerns about the future flow of dollars to the state from Washington, D.C.
In a brief question and answer period with reporters as the 2013 legislative session neared the midway point, Brownback said he was still analyzing data on Medicaid expansion but added that he is worried about future costs.
"We have a lot of pressures on the state budget that are significant," he said. He mentioned a court order to increase school funding, an at-capacity prison system and what he described as high demand for spending on public universities.
In addition, Brownback predicted that federal funding to the state in general would decrease over the next decade because of federal budget difficulties.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the feds would pay 100 percent of the Medicaid expansion costs for three years and then ratchet that down to 90 percent over the next several years.
On other issues, Brownback declined to state his position on bills that would relax renewable energy standards and require drug testing of some welfare beneficiaries.
"We'll see what gets to me," he said of a measure approved by a House committee to rollback the requirements for renewable energy.
On a bill approved by a Senate committee that would require drug tests for recipients of certain benefits, Brownback said, "Let's see what the Legislature puts forward on something like that."
Asked to comment on a Senate committee rejection of his reading initiative, he said he understood it was an emotional subject and that the discussion will continue. The Senate Education Committee defeated Brownback's proposal that would have required schools to hold back students in the third grade if they scored in the bottom performance level on the state's reading test.
On another issue, Brownback expressed support for establishing an adult stem cell center at Kansas University Medical Center.
"Having an adult stem cell center is not only highly plausible, it's being done and used in many places around the world," he said. "If Kansas could take a leadership position in that, it could be a highly useful thing for people to get treatments. There are number of different maladies now being treated by noncontroversial stem cell treatments," he said.
He added, "Let's see what develops in the process and in the bill." The bill would prohibit the center from using embryonic stem cells or cells taken from aborted fetal tissue.
Topeka — Gov. Sam Brownback has one of the lowest approval ratings among U.S. governors, according to a poll released Tuesday, and is potentially vulnerable going into his 2014 re-election effort.
However, the poll also showed there's no indication that Democrats can field a candidate who can defeat Brownback in 2014, because of the state's strong Republican orientation.
Fifty-two percent of Kansans disapprove of Brownback's performance as governor, while 37 percent approve, according to Public Policy Polling, a national poling group.
“Sam Brownback’s really unpopular,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “The question is whether he’s unpopular enough to allow a Democratic challenger to overcome the very heavy Republican lean of the state.”
The North Carolina polling firm conducted its first-ever Kansas poll from Feb. 21-24 with a survey of 1,229 registered Kansas voters. The poll has a plus or minus margin of error rate of 2.8 percent.
Seventy-two percent of moderates disapprove of Brownback's job performance, as well as 30 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independents.
Brownback's plan to phase out the state income tax is opposed by 48 percent of voters, while only 37 percent are supportive.
Brownback's former chief of staff David Kensinger, who now runs Brownback's policy organization, called Road Map Solutions, disagreed with the poll results. "That doesn't match up with the internal data we're seeing, or with other media exit polls or with actual election results," Kensinger said.
Kensinger said any governor in the country would love to run on Brownback's record.
But Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon said the poll shows Kansans "see through the fairy tale Brownback is spinning and understand his policies will hurt Kansas students, Kansas workers, and Kansas families."
When matched against six Democratic names, however, Brownback comes out ahead.
PPP tested Brownback against Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, former governor and current U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Gov. Mark Parkinson, state Sen. Tom Holland, who ran against Brownback in 2010, former Kansas City, Kan. Mayor Joe Reardon, and Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor.
Brownback led Brewer, 44-40; Sebelius, 48-43; Parkinson, 45-39; Holland, 45-38; Reardon, 45-36; and Taylor, 44-32.
PPP said that despite Brownback's unpopularity, Republican domination in voter registration and the low profile of Democrats still give Brownback a lead. "Nevertheless, Brownback is stuck at the 44-45 mark in all of these matchups except the one against Sebelius, so if Democrats nominate a strong candidate and they build up their name recognition, they should at least have a shot in this race next year, " the polling firm said.
Topeka — Realtors from across the state gathered Wednesday just outside Gov. Sam Brownback's office in the Statehouse to rally in opposition to a proposal by the governor to eliminate the homeowner mortgage interest and property tax deductions.
Brownback has said removing the deductions are needed to balance the budget and ratchet down the state personal income tax in future years.
Realtors say elimination of the deductions will hurt hundreds of thousands of Kansans and send the housing market into a tailspin.
Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman on Tuesday called for the repeal of Kansas corporate farming laws.
His comments came at a meeting where Gov. Sam Brownback and his Cabinet members were briefing legislators.
As he left the meeting, Brownback was asked what he thought of Rodman's remark. Brownback, who appointed Rodman to the ag secretary position, said he would outline his legislative agenda during his State of the State speech tonight.
But Brownback added that the state is trying to recruit businesses to rural areas and state regulations have been a problem.
"That is an issue for a number of them (businesses), given the structure of agriculture, particularly the structure of animal agriculture," he said.
Rodman has urged fewer restrictions before. Last year, he said Kansas had a history of turning away certain types of agriculture, particularly corporate hog farms.
"By reshaping our corporate agriculture laws, we can open Kansas up to the economic development these operations bring and become more competitive with other states. These industries are now modern, efficient and excellent corporate citizens," he said.
During his remarks to legislators, Brownback told them they are on the front end of changing government. State government must be more competitive, providing the best services at the lowest cost or people will go elsewhere, he said.
Topeka — As legislators gather today for the start of the 2013 session, one of the main budget issues is whether to make permanent the 6.3 percent state sales tax, which under current law is set to fall to 5.7 percent on July 1.
Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, has talked about the possibility of extending the 6.3 percent levy as the state grapples with budget shortfalls caused by income tax cuts he signed into law.
But if he wants to do that, he may not get any help from Democrats.
In the depths of the "Great Recession," a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans in 2010 approved increasing the state sales tax from 5.3 percent to 6.3 percent to avoid deeper budget cuts .
Under the law, the increased rate holds for three years and then falls to 5.7 percent, with four-tenths of one cent going toward paying for transportation projects. Many of those moderate Republicans and Democrats who voted for the temporary sales tax increase were defeated at the polls.
Since Republicans hold significant majorities in the Legislature — 92-33 in the House and 32-8 in the Senate — it is possible to make the temporary sales tax permanent without Democratic votes. But that would require the votes of some Republicans who have pledged to oppose tax increases.
"There isn't any amount of political spin that the governor or those legislators who adamantly opposed the sales tax increase can put on this. If they want to extend the tax increase, it is a tax increase pure and simple," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.
Asked if Democrats might face the dilemma of cutting programs they support or voting to extend the tax, Hensley said, "Sam Brownback wants to extend the sales tax to pay for his income tax cut. Let there be no misunderstanding about this at all."
Even last year, Brownback had proposed that the state keep the 6.3 percent rate to offset income tax cuts.
He has argued that cutting income taxes does more to stimulate the economy than lowering the sales tax.
Keeping the sales tax at 6.3 percent would raise approximately $250 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The gap between current state spending and projected revenue for the next fiscal year is already weighing in at $700 million.
Gov. Sam Brownback announced Tuesday he has formed the Kansas Humanitarian Commission, which will recognize Kansans and Kansas groups for their global and local charitable efforts.
Brownback has asked Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Ashleigh Black to co-chair the commission.
Colyer, a physician, has volunteered for more than 20 years through the International Medical Corps to bring medical care in war-torn areas. Black is associate director of the George Washington Center for Global Health in Washington, D.C.
Colyer and Black will name the remaining members of the commission, which will set up an annual Kansas Governor's Humanitarian of the Year award.
Vowing to reduce the size of the state's waistline, Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday launched a weight loss challenge.
"We have a problem in America with obesity and gluttony," Brownback said.
Five-member teams were invited to weigh-in through Jan. 15 and eat healthier and become more active. The state team with the largest weight percentage loss will win a monetary prize that hasn't yet been determined.
Nearly 350 teams have signed up. Brownback also encouraged non-state employee groups, such as businesses and municipalities, to accept the challenge and provide incentives for weight loss.
Brownback's team included himself, Transportation Secretary Mike King, Acting Labor Secretary Lana Gordon, Commerce Secretary Pat George, and Kansas Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli.
At a news conference in the rotunda of the Statehouse, Brownback announced his team weighed a total of 1,043 pounds. Individual weights were not revealed as team members stepped up to a scale that had a visual barrier.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a physician, said he hoped the challenge would help Kansans learn more about diet and nutrition. "This will affect your entire life," he said.
More information on the challenge is available at www.weightloss.ks.gov
Obamacare health insurance exchanges have been approved in four GOP-led states.
In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback rejected partnering with the federal government to set up the web-based insurance marketplaces, saying the Affordable Care Act was an overreach by the federal government.
But in Idaho, a spokesman for Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said, "We're on track for Idaho having a say over how this process works, instead of having the federal government dictate all of it."
Here is a link to the story. http://bit.ly/YZsuXr
Supporters of wind energy cheered final passage in Congress of the bill to avert the "fiscal cliff."
The bill included a one-year extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit for projects that start construction this year.
This statement came from the American Wind Energy Association: "America's 75,000 workers in wind energy are celebrating tonight over the continuation of policies expected to save up to 37,000 jobs and create far more over time, and to revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the country."
Gov. Sam Brownback has touted Kansas' growth in wind energy and supported extension of the credit. But he has also called for phasing it out over several years.
A name from an old Kansas political scandal is at the center of a new Texas political scandal.
The Dallas Morning News reported today that Kenneth "Buddy" Barfield, an Austin political consultant who this year managed Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's failed run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, has been accused by Dewhurst of stealing at least $600,000 from campaign funds. The newspaper and The Associated Press report that they have been unable to contact Barfield for comment.
A criminal investigation is under way and here is a link to that story: http://dallasne.ws/Tuq0jv
Barfield, a former employee of Koch Industries, was also a key figure in reports in 1996 that linked a $1 million political ad blitz with Wichita billionaire Charles Koch that helped four Kansas Republicans get elected to Congress, including current Gov. Sam Brownback, who was elected to the U.S. Senate that year. Brownback and the other three Republicans said they had nothing to do with the ads.
Here is a link to a report on that controversy from 1996: http://bit.ly/W5DyAb