Gov. Brownback Talks Taxes, Schools, Medicaid In Extended Interview

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says tax cuts are moving the state forward and do not mean the state doesn't have additional resources for areas that need money most.

Brownback made the comments in an extended interview with 13 News looking ahead to next year's legislative session.

On the economy, Brownback said the state had been declining for 30 years as what he called a "high-tax state." He said he aimed to upend that curve by slashing income taxes and tax on small businesses. He says he believes it's working and it would be his intent to continue the push toward eliminating individual income taxes.

Brownback said people have the misperception that cutting taxes means the state does not have revenue. Instead, Brownback claims, revenue is up and the economy is growing.

The increase in revenue, Brownback says, means more money for key areas, including K-thru-12 education. He says he supports full funding for all day kindergarten, plus the increase in base aid lawmakers previously approved.

What he won't say is how he might react if the Kansas Supreme Court, which is currently considering a lawsuit on the issue, orders more state funding for public schools. Brownback says the state is putting more money into education and that Kansas has excellent schools. He says he would like to steer conversation toward how to move forward, which he says is why he recently held a meeting with education leaders.

Brownback says he is opposed to seeing schools shut down because of a funding dispute.

He also is opposed to seeing schools closed through consolidation as an answer to budget problems. Brownback says closing schools
hurts communities. Instead, he'd like to see schools and districts work to consolidate functions, such as school bus and supply purchases, as a way to find savings.

As for the two other budget giants, Brownback says the state must continue to shore up its pension system and, when it comes to Medicaid, he wants extra resources put toward eliminating waiting lists.

Asked whether he would continue to balk at expanding Medicaid eligibility, which is a key component of the federal Affordable Care Act, Brownback said he has not declared one way or the other because he does not believe the Obama administration has put all its "cards are on the table" regarding exceptions, delays and other changes it might make to the law.

Brownback is being challenged by House Democratic leader Paul Davis in the 2014 election. Davis has disputed the Brownback administration's assertions regarding increased school funding, saying actual instructional aid has gone down. Davis and fellow Democrats also say the tax cuts have hurt vulnerable Kansans.

The governor also addressed issues related to mental health care, the Corrections budget, expanding health insurance coverage for autism services and election year politics. You can view the complete interview above.


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