Monday, April 1, 2013

Capitol Report: Brownback on higher ed, taxes; and KU’s well-connected lobbyist

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Topeka — Brownback on tax and spend
As House and Senate budget and tax negotiators meet to work out agreements in their plans, Gov. Sam Brownback has kept his public statements generally vague, except in two important areas: sales tax and higher education.

On the spending side, Brownback has repeated at least twice to reporters that he wants to keep higher education funding at the same level it is now. The House has proposed a 4 percent cut and the Senate, 2 percent.

On the tax side, Brownback wants to make the 6.3 percent state sales tax rate permanent, instead of allowing it to fall to 5.7 percent on July 1, which is how state law is now set.

Brownback says without the additional revenue from the increased state sales tax, the Legislature is going to have make big budget cuts.

Former Brownback assistant, Senate president son-in-law on KU lobbying team

Riley Scott, who worked for Gov. Sam Brownback, when he was in Congress, and then was deputy chief of staff and state director for U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, is now working as a lobbyist for Kansas University in the Statehouse. KU says he is being paid with private funds.

He joins Kathy Damron and Mandy Miller who lobby on behalf of KU.

Scott also is lobbying for Crossland Construction, whose chief executive officer is Ivan Crossland, who also is chairman of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

Crossland is pushing for a bill, opposed by unions, that would ban local government from having contracts with a "prevailing wage." Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, has become a champion of the bill, and her son-in-law is Riley Scott.

Quote of the week: "We've got to get our heads out of the sand. There are guns and there are people with evil intent and law enforcement is not always the first responder. The first responders at Sandy Hook are all dead." State Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, on his bill to expand concealed carry of guns.

What's next:

Most action will be in conference committees and the floor of the House and Senate.


10 a.m. — The Kansas Senate is scheduled to debate House Bill 2253, which states that life begins at fertilization, tells doctors to provide information about a link between abortion and cancer, which many say doesn't exist, and removes any tax breaks for medical expenses related to abortion.