Brownback counting on growth to cover extra school aid

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Departing Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is counting on growth in state revenues to pay for his proposal to boost spending on public schools.

In this Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 photo, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback talks about his term as governor during an interview at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Brownback is awaiting U.S. Senate confirmation as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

“We’re seeing more revenue growth. The tax package has increased last year, so that’s created a bit of a cushion that we haven’t had in years past,” said Brownback Budget Director Shawn Sullivan.

The budget proposals the term-limited Republican governor released Wednesday stoked an open revolt among GOP lawmakers.

They believe they'll be forced to consider raising taxes or making deep cuts elsewhere after Brownback leaves office. Senate budget committee Chairwoman Carolyn McGinn called his proposals "irresponsible."

“This is not balanced, and we’re going to have to find a way to balance the budget,” says Bunker Hill Republican Rep. Troy Waymaster.

In a statement released late Wednesday, Brownback acknowledged the criticism his plan has drawn, but noted complying with the state Supreme Court's decision "is not an option."

"I support the rule of law, and I will not stand to see schools closed because of inaction on our part," Brownback said.

Brownback is proposing to phase in a $601 million increase in aid to public schools over five years to meet a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to boost education funding.

"“Is a 5-year phase in going to appease the court? We don’t know that,” said Waymaster.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said growing revenues from a strong national economy will cover the costs. The governor's proposed $16.8 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning in July balances without a tax increase