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Brownback Hopes For Infrastructure, Water Investments As He Departs Kansas

Stephen Koranda
Kansas News Service/File photo
Brownback speaks at an event in 2016.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer steps in as governor of Kansas Wednesday afternoon. His predecessor, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, has been packing up his office in recent days, and is leaving behind a wish list for state lawmakers.

At a farewell gathering, Brownback told top legislative leaders that he’d like to see improvements to state facilities, like the hospitals in Osawatomie and Parsons, according to people in the meeting. He touted one of his last acts as governor: winning approval for a rebuild of the aging Lansing prison.

Republican House Speaker Ron Ryckman said Brownback also wants to continue efforts to preserve water resources.

“Water’s an area that you can’t think short term, you’ve got to think long term," Ryckman said. "We agree with Governor Brownback."

The top Democrat in the House, Jim Ward, was also in the meeting. He said it was only the second time he had such a meeting with the governor in his time as minority leader.

Ward called it ironic that some state facilities continued to deteriorate during Brownback’s seven-year tenure, but now he’d like investment.

“This is a conversation that would have been better had [in] year two, because these are not new problems,” Ward said.

Brownback also invited Kansans to fast and pray with him as he heads off to be religious freedom ambassador in the Trump administration.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.