| February 6, 2013

Look Out Texas—Here Comes Kansas!

[The following is excerpted from the State of the State Address delivered on January 15, 2013, by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.]

In an era when many believe America has lost its way, Kansans know the difficult path that the Nation must take. It is the well-worn sod tracks of hard work, thrift, patience, perseverance, faith, sacrifice, and family that will get us where we want our country to be.

And as has been our tradition since before statehood, our place, Kansas, will not be timid in doing what is right, even if much of the Nation takes another way.

Where others choose to raise taxes, we will lower them so our people have more money, not the government.

Where other governments expand, we grow smaller.

Where others choose to grow spending, Kansas grows jobs.

In important ways, our state is going against the tide and reflecting more of the values of the Greatest Generation, the World War II generation, more than my own.

Where some accept the breakdown of the family as unavoidable, we push back, knowing that strong families and healthy marriages are the best guarantee for the future of our kids.

Where some walk away from our Nation’s motto, we embrace it as a part of the pioneering spirit: “In God We Trust.”...

When I started as governor, we began the fiscal year with $876.05 in the bank and a projected deficit of $500 million—even after taxes had been increased.

Working with the legislature, we ended last fiscal year with a $500 million ending balance—a billion dollar swing to the good, and we paid off all of our callable bonds! …

When I started as governor, we had the highest state income tax in the region; now we have the second lowest and I want us to take it to zero. Look out Texas, here comes Kansas! …

Last year the Kansas Legislature passed the largest tax cut in state history. Tonight we are here to take another step on our path to no state income tax. This will create jobs and opportunities in our state that the current generation has left for Texas or Florida to find.

By making government more efficient and growing our economy, we can keep the sales tax flat at its current level and cut income taxes on our lower income working families to 1.9 percent and drop the top rate to 3.5 percent. This glide path to zero will not cut funding for schools, higher education, or essential safety net programs. …

Just as families must budget, the state of Kansas must prioritize its budget as well. Fiscal discipline has seemingly become a lost art in government.

Our schools only get 54 cents of every valuable education dollar into the classroom. This at a time when we put more state money into K-12 per capita than any surrounding state—and when total spending averages more than $12,600 per student per year.

We seem to focus only on how much money is appropriated, not on whether it is effectively spent. This must change and that change is happening in our Administration.

I am submitting to this Legislature a full two-year budget recommendation, with substantial focus on efficiency and effectiveness.

  • This two-year budget is balanced.
  • It protects base aid and increases total state funding for K-12 schools.
  • It maintains stable funding for higher education.
  • It provides funding to educate 50 additional medical doctors every year at a new, state-of-the-art medical training building at the University of Kansas Medical Center. We want the highest quality health care for all Kansans.
  • This two-year budget provides essential services for our most needy Kansans.
  • It funds a new crime lab and training facility for our state’s law enforcement on the campus of Washburn University.
  • It fully funds our state’s infrastructure investments through T-WORKS.

Additionally, both my 2014 and 2015 budgets provide a 7.5 percent ending balance—without cutting core services. This stands in stark contrast to the $876 in the state treasury in July of 2010. Make no mistake;

I believe in fiscal discipline and adequate cash balances. …

We have been placed here for a reason and our season is short. Let us build a better state and do it now.

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