Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Re-nominated as Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer stands beside Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Gina Meier Hummel as she announces plans to address some of the the high-profile problems with Kansas’ foster care system

In his final State of the State address, Brownback advocated that over the next five years $600 million in funding to Kansas School Districts.

"We just felt like it was very disingenuous for him to give us a budget with massive new spending after the way he reacted past year", Republican Senate President Susan Wagle said.

The court ruled in October that the state's education funding in inadequate under the state constitution even after lawmakers phased in a $293 million increase over two years to increase it to $4.3 billion a year. She said the school funding piece rings hollow given the governor's bitter opposition to past spending increases for education.

The budget proposal also includes continued pay raises for correctional officers and money to restore some of the cuts made to hospitals and nursing homes in the past.

Some lawmakers are frustrated that Brownback fought the tax increase past year, but it's now helping pay for his proposed $600 million boost in school spending. He also praised the bipartisan majorities that raised taxes a year ago over Brownback's veto.

Rep. Melissa Rooker, R-Fairway, said the governor's budget scheme appeared driven by political interests and crafted to "elicit good feelings and applause lines on his way out the door". "The strong revenue growth helps our budget situation".

Brownback said last week he will deliver the annual address - not Lt. Gov. Jeff Coyler - despite the fact President Donald Trump nominated Brownback in July for USA ambassador-at-large for global religious freedom.


The tax increase approved a year ago rolled back most of the past income tax cuts championed by Brownback in 2012 and 2013. The U.S. Senate's failure to vote on Brownback's appointment has created an awkward transition to a new governor. He accused them of using the new revenues to finance unnecessary spending.

"We have received the decree of the Kansas Supreme Court and are putting forth a proposal to comply, as we have done with the prior decisions", Brownback said.

Republican legislative leaders already had shown their displeasure with Brownback by blocking a plan to build a new prison in the Kansas City area and by criticizing a proposal to have private insurance companies administer the state's Medicaid health coverage for the poor, disabled and elderly.

The Brownback administration's budget proposal got a harsh reception Wednesday from Kansas lawmakers on all sides.

By Adam Strunk Governor Sam Brownback wants to provide more funding for education.

Legislators already are reviewing projections from their staff showing that even with last year's tax increase and no extra money for schools, budget problems could arise in 2020 and 2021.

"I don't understand where the money is going to come from", he said. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat running for governor.

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