Absent ambassadorship confirmation, Brownback to deliver State of the State

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - With his future as international religious ambassador in limbo, Gov. Sam Brownback officially announced Tuesday that he will deliver the State of the State address.

Brownback's office said he has accepted the invitation of House Speaker Ron Ryckman to appear before a joint session of the legislature at 5 p.m. January 9.

Brownback's office says the State of the State message will include the governor's response to the Kansas Supreme Court's Gannon school finance ruling. The Court ruled Kansas does not meet its constitutional obligation to fund K-thru-12 public schools adequately and equitably. It gave lawmakers until June 30 to comply.

While Brownback will give the speech, his office indicates that Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will meet with advocacy groups the following day to discuss the budget proposal. Brownback had previously said Colyer was leading development of the budget proposal, but as Brownback's nomination for ambassador for international religious freedom stalled in Congress, his office said Tuesday that it would be Brownback presenting the budget. A spokesperson did tell the Wichita Eagle that Colyer had significant input.

Brownback was nominated for the religious ambassador position in July, a role designed to combat religious persecution around the world. He appeared in October for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, which narrowly advanced his nomination.

However, with no vote by the full Senate by year's end, the nomination went back to the White House, meaning Brownback will have to be re-nominated.