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Editorial Commentary: Ken Ciboski

Brownback Wants Greater Control

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Orlin Wagner/AP
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Governor Sam Brownback has worked to have greater control over the process of making public policy since his first election as governor in 2010. He’s proposed that Kansas Supreme Court judges be nominated by the Governor and then approved or disapproved by the state legislature. Critics contend that the Governor desires this change because he is unhappy with judicial rulings that K-12 school funding is not funded adequately by the state legislature.

Governor Brownback also faced some challenges early in his first term from several state senators and some state house of representative members who were opposed to some of his policies. The Governor’s hand was strengthened when several of them were defeated in hotly contested 2012 election campaigns.   

This past week, we saw another example of working for greater control of the policy process when Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick purged three Republicans with close ties to health care from the House Health and Human Services committee. The reason for the purge is that if these individuals were left on the committee, a vote to report out a bill expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would likely occur. Governor Brownback says that the state does not have the resources to cover the cost of an expanded Medicaid program, and House Speaker Ray Merrick is opposed to Medicaid expansion. Some of the state’s hospitals say that they have been harmed by the decision not to expand Medicaid.

We should expect little or no change by the leadership on this and other issues during the 2016 legislative session. What we can expect is a grueling 2016 session when revenue shortfalls will likely be met with cuts in spending.