Former Republican lawmakers oppose Brownback on education, taxes

Former Republican Rep. Rochelle Chronister announces the formation of the Traditional Republicans for Common Sense

TOPEKA — A group of roughly 50 former Republican lawmakers today said they oppose Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposals to eliminate income taxes and reconfigure how the state funds education.

Rochelle Chronister, a former assistant majority leader and former chair of the state Republican Party, said the current school finance model would work if properly funded and she warned that eliminating income taxes could put more pressure on the poor.

“This is truly a moral crisis for our state,” she said at a news conference in the Statehouse. “Asking the poorest to pay more and the richest to pay less is unfair.”

The group is called Traditional Republicans for Common Sense. But Chronister declined to define what “traditional” means. The term is usually¬†synonymous¬†with “moderate.”

Chronister’s comments come just minutes before House and Senate negotiators plan to meet to hash out differences between two costly income tax reduction plans.

Chronister said the group of former Republican lawmakers is growing. But she said the group hasn’t decided whether they will help finance campaigns of other Republicans, such as the eight incumbent Republican senators facing challenges from candidates who have more conservative stances on taxes and spending.

Only one former lawmaker from Wichita is among the group — former Rep. Sandy Duncan. Chronister said there are probably fewer members from Wichita because the city typically produces more conservative lawmakers.