Category Archives: Sam Brownback

Kansans for Life credits Brownback for Alito

brownbackarmsupGov. Sam Brownback welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, saying it “affirmed the right of religious freedom, one of the bedrock principles enshrined in our Constitution,” and “again rebuked a needless overreach of President Obama’s administration.” In its response to the ruling, Kansans for Life gratefully linked the opinion’s author, Justice Samuel Alito, to Brownback: “Alito’s appointment to the court would not have occurred had not our governor, then-U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, led the resistance to President Bush’s 2005 nomination of Harriet Miers to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.” Of course, Brownback has done plenty for the anti-abortion cause as governor, too, after having said in his 2011 State of the State address: “I call on the Legislature to bring to my desk legislation that protects the unborn, establishing a culture of life in Kansas.” As of early this year, Kansas had paid private law firms more than $1 million to defend anti-abortion laws enacted under Brownback.

Brownback polling poorly in Wichita, among women

brownbackofficialmugOne of the most striking findings in a new poll on the Kansas gubernatorial race is how poorly Gov. Sam Brownback is doing in Wichita. Statewide, Brownback trails his Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, by 6 points, 41 to 47 percent, in a SurveyUSA poll sponsored by KSN, Channel 3. But in Wichita, Brownback is behind by a whopping 15 points, 36 to 51 percent. What’s even more stunning, Brownback trails his GOP primary opponent, Jennifer Winn, among Wichitans by 3 points, 45 to 48 percent. Statewide, Brownback leads Winn 55 to 37 percent, which still isn’t that great, considering how few people have even heard of Winn. Also of note in the survey is the sizable gender gap. Statewide, Brownback narrowly leads Davis 44 to 43 percent among men. But among women surveyed, Brownback trails Davis 37 to 51 percent. Brownback also is far behind Davis among moderates (23 to 69 percent) and independents (27 to 46 percent), two groups that sometimes swing close elections.

Fiscal trends only count if they are positive?

cashGov. Sam Brownback doesn’t like it that the media are focusing on how the state’s cash balance is rapidly disappearing and that it is borrowing twice as much money this coming fiscal year as it did this year. But Brownback is the one who has pointed to these measures as evidence of the success of his policies. Brownback has repeatedly bragged in recent years about the amount of the state’s cash balances. And last year he boasted about how the state needed to borrow only $300 million to help meet cash-flow demands. If those were signs of success, why aren’t the opposite trends cause for concern?

Brownback shows no interest in Medicaid expansion

doctoroutThough Gov. Sam Brownback says he hasn’t decided yet whether to allow a federal expansion of Medicaid, his comments sound like he has no interest in it. During a recent interview with the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Brownback said that “Obamacare is not working and it is not going to work.” He also scoffed at the federal government’s promise to cover all of the costs of expansion for the first three years and a minimum of 90 percent after that. “They’re going to up our percent,” he said. Nor did Brownback show interest in alternative models of expansion being pursued by other red states.

Kansas losing out on millions in Medicaid funding

medicaidRep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, was one of the speakers at a Friday rally at the Statehouse in Topeka supporting a federal expansion of Medicaid in Kansas. Not only have Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature refused to allow an expansion, but GOP legislative leaders wouldn’t even allow Ward to have a hearing on the issue this past session. “That is wrong,” Ward said. “This is the place where we have those discussions.” The federal government would pay the entire cost of expansion for the first three years and nearly all the cost after that. By not expanding, Kansas has lost out on about $164 million in federal funding since Jan. 1, according to the Kansas Medicaid Access Coalition.

Data favors a second Brownback term

bbackoathGov. Sam Brownback has a strong 78 percent chance of winning re-election in November, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of early polling in all 36 gubernatorial elections and the accuracy of such polling data since 2006. Republicans currently hold 29 governorships, and the site’s Harry Enten concluded that “Republicans are favorites to hold most Republican seats, and Democrats are likely to hold most Democratic seats.”

Kansas ‘renaissance’ looks more like dark ages

brownbackcampaignOne day before the state reported that its tax collections for May were a stunning $217 million less than expected, Gov. Sam Brownback had a commentary in the Wall Street Journal headlined, “A Midwest Renaissance Rooted in the Reagan Formula.” Brownback summarized the state’s income tax cuts on his watch and touted the business formations, unemployment rate and private-sector job growth, also giving a nod to neighboring states’ recent tax cuts. “Kansas and its neighbors in Missouri and Oklahoma are charting a course based on a vision of lower taxes and leaner governments leading to a more prosperous citizenry,” he wrote. On Thursday the governor delivered a similar message at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Asked by the Hill about the decision of Moody’s Investors Service to downgrade the state’s credit rating over fiscal concerns in the state, Brownback said: “They’ve been downgrading a lot of states.” Actually, Moody’s has downgraded only three states in the past year: Illinois in June 2013, Kansas in April and New Jersey last month.

Brownbacks are encouraging kids to read for fun

schoolreadingGood for Gov. Sam Brownback and first lady Mary Brownback for supporting Read Kansas Read. The annual reading program, which is a collaborative effort by the Kansas State Library system and Kansas State Department of Education, encourages children to read for fun throughout the summer. The top readers in each age division from the seven library regions in the state will be recognized by the first lady at the Kansas Book Festival in September. Jo Budler, the state librarian, said that Kansas libraries had more than 97,000 children and teens participate in summer reading programs last year. “I hope that we have even more visit their library and make reading a priority this year,” Budler said.

So they said

robertsmug“Maybe the Kochs are to blame for the planes lost in the Bermuda Triangle. How about the volcanic eruption at Pompeii years back? Even, Mr. President, the futility of the Chicago Cubs.” – Sen. Pat Roberts (in photo), R-Kan., on the Senate floor last week, blasting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for pointing figures at the Koch brothers for climate change and California wildfires

“I kept hoping that the governor would eventually see the rationale behind getting those federal dollars. Those are our tax dollars that are going to Washington that are going to other states that are expanding coverage.” – Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, lamenting Gov. Sam Brownback’s refusal to expand Medicaid as MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” examined Kansas’ sharp right turn

“It never surprises me that the most active governors have a dip in their popularity as their opponents go nuts.” – Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist, in an Associated Press article about Brownback’s low approval ratings and re-election bid

“You serve food with integrity? How about serving people with integrity?” – Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, tweeting about Chipotle Mexican Grill having asked its customers not to bring guns into its restaurants, which Huelskamp also said showed Chipotle’s “disdain for the 2nd Amendment”

Brownback campaign a ‘man-bites-dog story’

brownbackofficialmugGov. Sam Brownback’s difficult re-election campaign is a compelling story because Kansas is such a red state and this is shaping up to be a big year for Republicans nationally, Jeff Roe, a GOP consultant based in Kansas City, told National Public Radio. “It’s a man-bites-dog story – can a Republican lose in Kansas?” Roe said. But Roe thinks that Brownback will pull away in the end and cruise to victory. “This is going to be a fun race to watch in May and June,” Roe said, “and a real boring one to watch in October and November.”

So they said

bbackmug“Kansas is, at last, escaping the economic death spiral it had been in. My ‘Road Map for Kansas’ is working.” – Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo), in the fundraising letter in which he misstated dates regarding the state’s finances and referred to Democratic opponent Paul Davis (in boldface type) as “a liberal lawyer from Lawrence who was a two-time delegate for Barack Obama”

“Kansas is the most changed state in America.” – Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, touting the administration’s economic, education and pro-life records at a Saline County Republican candidate forum

“Most good things that last are bipartisan.” – former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, to Kansas Public Radio, about working with Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy to pass the Americans With Disabilities Act

“I’d love to have a magic wand to bring some of your sanity back to Washington. You are missed.” – former Democratic Gov. John Carlin, visiting with Dole in Salina on Tuesday

“Probably the best thing we did this spring was we got out of town after 79 days.” – Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, on the legislative session

“It was amazing how hardheaded those folks were. They just couldn’t accept the fact that they got beat.” – Hineman again, on opponents of renewable energy standards

Brownback’s cash-reserves claim not the full story

cashSam Brownback loves to mention, as he did in a campaign fundraising letter this month, that the state had only $876 in the bank when he became governor, and that it now has hundreds of millions of dollars in cash reserves. But as Eagle reporter Bryan Lowry noted, the $876 was actually the balance on the last day of the fiscal year six months before Brownback was sworn in. And a main reason why the reserves rebounded was that Brownback’s predecessor, former Gov. Mark Parkinson, and the Legislature approved a temporary sales tax increase. What’s more, Brownback opposed that sales tax increase when he campaigned for governor. But after he was elected, he opposed revoking it and convinced the Legislature to make part of the increase permanent. And if the size of the cash balance is the measure of fiscal responsibility, shouldn’t Kansans be concerned that the balance is dropping rapidly because of state income tax cuts (which Brownback also fails to mention)?

So they said

bbackmug“In my 2014 State of the State address which began this legislative session I asked what kind of state we would leave to our 3 millionth Kansan. I believe, through the hard work of this Legislature, we have met our commitment to leave her a state with a growing economy, responsible state government and a world-class education.” – Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo), in a session-ending statement

“Kansas is so red that Attila the Hun ought to be able to win an election in Kansas if he only had an ‘R’ listed after his name on the ballot.” – MSNBC host Rachel Maddow last week, noting Brownback’s surprisingly low approval ratings going into his re-election bid

“That’s just further evidence of the kind of dark money campaigning that goes on in Kansas politics these days.” – Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, on a mailer opposing renewable energy standards

Vote on Moritz gives Brownback a court seat to fill

moritzThree long years after the seat opened, a Kansan has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – Kansas Supreme Court Justice Nancy Moritz, with a vote of 90-3 on Monday. To their credit, Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran supported President Obama’s nomination of Moritz, with Moran calling her “well-prepared” and saying: “I am confident Nancy’s service on the 10th Circuit will be guided by the values we hold in Kansas, including empathy for others and respect for the rule of law.” Roberts and Moran inexplicably blocked Obama’s 2011 nomination to the seat of former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six, who also was well-qualified. But Moritz will be a great addition to the court; a Beloit native and Washburn University Law School graduate, she had experience as a federal prosecutor and coordinator of appellate cases for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas before Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed her to the Kansas Court of Appeals in 2004 and Gov. Mark Parkinson named her to the Supreme Court in 2011. Of course, Moritz’s confirmation also has a key benefit for Kansas Republicans – providing Gov. Sam Brownback with his first opportunity to name a member of the state Supreme Court.

Washington-style politics and lobbying moved to Kansas

lobbyistThe FBI probe into the fundraising and lobbying activities of associates of Gov. Sam Brownback made the New York Times. An article this week said that the tactics used by current and former staff members “underline the degree to which Washington-style politics and lobbying have taken root in state capitals.” Or as former Kansas Senate President Steve Morris put it: “K Street has moved to Kansas.”

Unrealistic to think that state tax policy drives economy?

taxrevenueGov. Sam Brownback and GOP lawmakers blamed President Obama for why Kansas tax collections in April were $93 million less than projected. “There are … natural consequences for being in an ocean, in a sea, that belongs to Obama,” said Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane. Though it is silly to blame the revenue drop on Obama, it certainly is true that the Kansas economy is linked to the national and global economies. That being the case, was it unrealistic to think that Kansas’ income-tax cuts, which were relatively small compared with the larger economy, would act like “a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy,” as Brownback promised? So far, Kansas’ economy is lagging the nation and neighboring states while personal income-tax collections are $508 million less than at this point last fiscal year.

If tax revenues are off, it’s Obama’s fault?

Inaugural Swearing InIt has been almost comical to hear the shifting responses by Brownback administration officials to changes in state tax revenue collections. When the March tax collections came in higher than projected, Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan boasted about how “we’re seeing the Kansas economic engine running.” But when the April collections came in $93 million less than projections (which were made only two weeks ago), Jordan and Gov. Sam Brownback blamed President Obama and the national economy. Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Kansas’ state bonds, citing the state’s sluggish economy, budget problems and revenue reductions resulting from tax cuts. Is that Obama’s fault, too?

Will Brownback lose some support from senior citizens?

votingbooth2A recent Rasmussen Reports poll had Gov. Sam Brownback leading his presumed Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, by 47 to 40 percent. What’s most interesting is the demographic divide of those polled. Brownback leads among men, while Davis is ahead among women. Davis has a 20-percentage point lead in the 18- to 39-year-old age bracket, while Brownback is up by 9 points among 40- to 64-year-olds and by 17 points among those 65 and older. Older citizens are more likely to vote than younger ones, which benefits Brownback. But will Brownback lose some of his support from senior citizens now that he has signed a bill that could give the state control of Medicare?

Nuss will speak out when court’s authority is undermined

nussSome state lawmakers don’t like Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss criticizing a bill, which Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law, linking operational funding for the courts to reforms aimed at weakening the Supreme Court’s authority. “He needs to keep his comments and political actions within the walls of the judiciary,” Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe, told the Kansas City Star. But Nuss is justified in challenging the reforms, particularly when they appear to violate the Kansas Constitution, which gives the Supreme Court “general administrative authority over all courts in this state.” Nuss said: “When I see that authority and the respect for this constitutional institution eroded or being undermined, yes, I speak out.”

So they said

brownbackofficialmug“Thanks for what you do. Take care.” – Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo), waving to protesting schoolteachers as he got out of a car in Hays on Wednesday

“Hopefully this is going to put this litigation to bed.” – House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, at the Monday signing ceremony for the school-finance bill

“I’m trying to cover all 105 counties. I don’t know whether I’ll make it or not. When you’re 90, you don’t order room service.” – former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, quoted by the Washington Post cracking up an Olathe crowd on Monday on the first leg of his tour of the state

“I thought I was a conservative, but we’ve got some in Congress now who are so far right they’re about to fall out of the Capitol.” – Dole again, speaking in Ottawa

“4th Time’s the Charm. Dole 2016.” – a sign spotted Tuesday during Dole’s visit to the Dole Institute in Lawrence

Aid to poor decreasing while poverty increasing

CLAIRE CRAWFORD“Currently we are spending 41 percent less on TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) than we were in 2008. In the meantime, poverty, particularly childhood poverty, has gone up. How you rationalize those two numbers is beyond me,” Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said at a Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing this week. Here’s how they reconcile the figures: At the same time needs of families have increased, the Brownback administration has tightened eligibility requirements for welfare, food stamps and child care assistance. Last year, Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Mark Holland contrasted these policies with Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: “I was hungry, and you cut my food stamps. I was sick, and you refused to expand Medicaid.”

Arizona governor again vetoes gun bills

gun3On the same day that Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill nullifying local gun ordinances in Kansas, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed guns in public buildings and events lacking security guards and metal detectors. Brewer has vetoed two other similar bills, saying in 2012 that such a decision on whether to allow or prohibit guns in “sensitive” government locations “should be cooperatively reached and supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders, including citizens, law enforcement officials and local government leaders.” She also vetoed a bill on Tuesday that would allow local government officials involved in regulating firearms to be fined and removed from office. (And also unlike Brownback, Brewer vetoed a bill in 2011 to set up a health care compact with other states. Brewer was concerned about the structure of the compact and that it would “result in additional fiscal challenges for our health care system.”)

Brownback ahead in new poll

thumbsupGov. Sam Brownback is leading his presumed Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, by 47 to 40 percent, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll. Surveys by two other polling groups had Davis alightly ahead in the potential fall matchup. Davis led by 42 to 37 percent among independent voters in the Rasmussen poll.

Help mentally ill by expanding Medicaid

mentalhealthGov. Sam Brownback’s mental health task force made some good recommendations last week on improving the state’s mental health system, such as having the state offer financial support to preschool and early childhood behavioral health care programs and doing a better job integrating services. But the most cost-effective improvement the state could make is allowing the federal expansion of Medicaid. The expansion, which would be fully paid for by the federal government for the first three years and nearly fully funded after that, would enable thousands of Kansans to receive mental health treatment in their communities.

Brownback should veto bill giving state control of Medicare

praeger“To include Medicare into an attempt to make political statements about the Affordable Care Act, I think, is wrong,”  said Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger (in photo). It is wrong. Yet House Bill 2553 would give the state control of all federal health care programs, subject to congressional approval, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Brownback needs to veto the bill, which is being promoted by an out-of-state group, and not jeopardize the health care of senior citizens. Praeger also cautioned that there could be political consequences if Brownback signs the bill: “I would be very nervous if I were running in a statewide campaign about making that bloc of seniors upset.”