Governor’s tobacco bonds plan draws strong criticism

Sam Brownback
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (KSN File Photo)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is facing strong bipartisan criticism over his proposal to use bonds backed by tobacco settlement funds to help plug short-term budget gaps.

The Republican governor wants to sell off the rights to collect part of Kansas’ annual payments from a national legal settlement in the 1990s between states and tobacco companies.

Such a deal would generate a one-time cash payment of $158 million to the state.

The governor outlined the plan this week as one of several alternatives for closing budget gaps totaling more than $290 million. Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said the governor believes the proposal would do less harm to state programs than other proposals.

But legislators in both parties see the plan as using long-term debt to fix budget problems over two fiscal years.

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