Brownback offers optimistic view at inaugural ball

Gov. Sam Brownback raises his glass while giving a toast on Saturday Jan. 10, 2015, during the Inaugural Ball at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal, Chris Neal)

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) — Gov. Sam Brownback gave an optimistic outlook for the state Saturday at his inaugural ball, touting Kansas’ Republican leaders, small government and low taxes — even as he faces a budget hole of hundreds of millions of dollars.

More than 1,000 people attended the festivities, ahead of Brownback’s inauguration Monday for his second term, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Brownback, who has said he plans to fix a $279 million gap in this year’s budget mainly through transfers from other state funds, declared his confidence in the Legislature coming together in a “workman-like” manner to deal with the state’s issues.

After a toast from Gov. Sam Brownback, attendees of the Kansas Inaugural Ball on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, at the Kansas Expocentre enjoy dinner before  dancing afterwards in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal, Chris Neal)
After a toast from Gov. Sam Brownback, attendees of the Kansas Inaugural Ball on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, at the Kansas Expocentre enjoy dinner before dancing afterwards in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal, Chris Neal)

“We’re moving forward with Republican leadership, we’re moving forward with conservative leadership. We’re moving forward on low taxes; effective, limited government; strong families and a strong military,” Brownback said, the Capital-Journal reported. “We’re moving forward with a faith in God, a faith in our nation’s motto: In God We Trust. We believe in faith, family and freedom.”

Brownback will deliver his State of the State address Thursday night and offer his spending plan Friday. He has said his budget is the start of the discussion and that the Legislature will decide “what they want to do.”

Without a long-term solution, projections show the gap between anticipated revenues and spending in the next fiscal year will widen to $436 million. The governor’s office has said he intends to present a “structurally balanced” proposal for the next two fiscal years. He has said his proposals would be “revenue positive” — meaning they would leave the state with a surplus.

The budget gaps arose after aggressive personal income tax cuts enacted at Brownback’s urging, aimed at stimulating the state’s economy. The reductions are expected to save taxpayers $1.3 billion in the current and next fiscal years.

Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said she appreciated Brownback’s leadership, including on tax policy.

“I am proud to say I was one of the people that voted for that bill,” Wagle said, “and I thank God that Sam proposed lowering income taxes, because I wonder where we would be today if he had not come into office with some grand reform ideas.”

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