TOPEKA — Armed with strong Republican majorities in both legislative chambers, Gov. Sam Brownback Tuesday evening will try to set the tone for a 2013 legislative session that could steer the state farther to the political right.
Brownback’s State of the State address is set to air at 6:30 p.m. on KPTS, Channel 8. It also can be heard on radio at KMUW 89.1-FM. And it will be livestreamed at http://kslegislature.org/li/.
The Eagle will post updates to Twitter at @brentwistrom and provide updates, reaction and analysis on Kansas.com.
Brownback’s annual address, before a decidedly more conservative Legislature packed with newcomers, is also expected to answer one of the biggest issues facing state government: How does the governor plan to deal with the $267 million budget gap created by cutting income taxes for individuals and eliminating taxes for small businesses and farms?
Brownback’s administration has foreshadowed a plan that would extend the six-tenths of a cent sales tax that many lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, promised would expire in July. That could pump about $250 million into the budget. And the plan the governor pitched last year, to cut more tax credits and deductions, could be revived.
Lawmakers might be enticed by a proposal mentioned last month by Brownback’s budget director, Steve Anderson. He said the administration may propose channeling some portion of the sales tax to a fund to further buy down income tax rates.
But a cloud overhangs all that. A panel of Shawnee District Court judges ruled last week that Kansas should uphold its constitutional obligation to fund education by adding at least $440 million to its school finance formula, matching a funding level set forth in state law after a school finance battle in 2005.
Meanwhile, Brownback may also address his new mental health initiative, which aims to spend about $10 million in taxpayer money on getting treatment for folks who push services away, and highlight some of the things he felt his administration achieved during his first two years in office.
Brownback’s administration plans to release details of its recommended budget Wednesday.