Brownback: We’ll Move Forward For Growth

By John Celock

Fresh off being only the second Republican Kansas governor to achieve a second term in years, Gov. Sam Brownback is pledging to continue what he says is a growth oriented agenda.

Brownback, speaking on “The Joseph Ashby Show” Tuesday morning on KQAM radio in Wichita, said that he plans to continue to promote growth in the state, along with the success that his tax cuts could bring. He noted that budget cuts will likely come, but said that the state will continue to fund core programs, along with education.

“We try to move forward humbly and carefully and continue to move forward to be a more growth oriented state,” Brownback said about his plans for his second term.

Brownback won reelection last week defeating Democrat Paul Davis, in an election that Davis made a referendum on Brownback’s term. Davis focused much of his campaign on that he was not Brownback, saying that the governor had hurt the state through his deep tax cuts and what he said was an underfunding of education. Davis and his supporters had said that the tax cuts would bankrupt the state.

Brownback and his supporters have defended the Republican’s record, noting that the tax cuts will lead to business growth and increased revenue after a brief slump. They also defended Brownback’s education record, saying that he has increased education spending annually since taking office. Brownback allies also noted that Davis supported education funding cuts proposed by former Gov. Mark Parkinson (D) while serving in the state Legislature.

Brownback said that what he described to Ashby as “lies” about his record caused the election to be close. He said that Davis’ claims on education helped swing the election into the competitive category.

“We have put record spending in education and we’ve increased it every year I’ve been in office,” Brownback reminded Ashby.

Davis and his allies, including the Kansas National Education Association, had made education policy a key focal point, including in the Kansas City suburbs, where moderate Republican state lawmakers had disagreed with Brownback and conservatives on education policy. Davis and his allies had focused on education spending, along with a new law passed earlier this year that would allow individual school districts to eliminate teacher tenure.

Brownback said that while new revenue projections show the state using up $400 million in reserve funds and running into a $278 million budget hole, the state government will move forward. He said that budget cuts will come but that they will not hurt the state. He said that cuts his staff have identified will not have a “significant impact” on state operations, noting that schools will be funded and state transportation improvements will continue.

“We are not in dire financial straights,” Brownback told Ashby. “We are going to make it through this. We won’t go into the hole, you can’t under the constitution.”

Brownback noted that while the cuts have caused a revenue decline, he is confident that policies will lead to economic growth and a revenue uptick. He said that President Ronald Reagan saw the same impact with his tax cuts in the 1980s.

“We always projected a dip for several years before the growth takes place,” Brownback said.