Saturday, August 17, 2013

Brownback’s budget director Anderson resigns

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Gov. Sam Brownback's budget director, Steve Anderson, is resigning, it was announced today.

"I am grateful to Steve for his commitment to this state and his diligence as we returned fiscal solvency to Kansas," Brownback said. "His hard work has helped set the stage for Kansas to compete in a global economy."

Anderson, a certified public accountant and managing partner of Anderson Reichert Anderson LLC, was named budget director by Brownback in December 2010.

As a member of the Governor's Economic Growth Team, he worked to strengthen the economy and create jobs for Kansans, Brownback said

"I have been honored to serve the state I love for the past three years," Anderson said. "My family has supported me without question as I spent the majority of time away from them. It is time for me to be with my wife and our boys, and enjoy our time as a family," he said. His family lives in Oklahoma.

Anderson's resignation will be effective Aug. 31. Policy Director Jon Hummel will serve as interim budget director until Brownback names a permanent replacement.

Earlier this year, The Wichita Eagle reported that there was a $2 billion error in a chart that Brownback had used to take credit for state spending cuts.

Anderson said the spreadsheet that led to the incorrect number was formed before he was appointed, but he took responsibility for it. He said he offered to resign at that time, but Brownback rejected the offer.

Democrats alleged that the incorrect numbers were politically motivated to make it appear that Brownback had cut spending.

Brownback’s choice of Anderson as state budget director raised eyebrows because of Anderson’s previous work with Americans for Prosperity, an organization founded by billionaire David Koch that promotes cuts in taxes, regulations and the size of government.

In 2009, Anderson and the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity proposed a “model budget” for Kansas. In that document, AFP said the biggest problem with the budget is “unconstrained growth of state spending.”

The group called for a cut in the state income tax, cuts in state spending, including Medicaid, and a voucher program in which tax dollars would be used to pay tuition for students to attend private schools.

The plan also called for a program to allow tax credits for donations to scholarship funds for low-income children to attend private schools.

The plan also recommended higher tuition at public universities and schools.

“There is no reason to tax the majority in the state who do not have children attending a state institution in order to subsidize those who do, especially when there is evidence it is the more affluent citizens who are more likely to have children enrolled in higher education,” the document said.

Earlier this week, Anderson met with the Kansas Board of Regents. During that discussion, Anderson praised Brownback's fiscal policies, including income tax cuts, and the state's higher education system.

He urged regents to improve communication with the Legislature's conservative leaders, who last session approved funding cuts to universities.