Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director resigning for personal reasons

08/16/2013 5:08 PM

08/16/2013 9:30 PM

Kansas Budget Director Steve Anderson is resigning at the end of the month for personal reasons, after more than three years as an architect of conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s fiscal policies and a vocal advocate for massive cuts in personal income taxes.

Brownback’s office announced Friday that Anderson’s resignation is effective Aug. 31. The governor praised Anderson in a statement for helping the state “to compete in a global economy.”

Anderson, a 59-year-old certified public accountant, became budget director in December 2010, a month before Brownback took office. Some Democratic and moderate GOP legislators immediately viewed Anderson with suspicion because he had been a consultant for the anti-tax, small-government group Americans for Prosperity.

Also, in February, Anderson publicly apologized for the Budget Division supplying Brownback with an erroneous figure that led the governor to make incorrect statements about state spending in public presentations. Anderson later told a meeting of Republicans that he had offered to resign but joked that the governor told him, “You’re not getting off that easy.”

Anderson said Friday that the division quickly corrected its data and updated its data-handling procedures to prevent another such mistake. He and Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the incident played no role in his departure.

Instead, Anderson noted he and his wife are raising two grandsons in Edmond, Okla., where he still has an accounting firm. While they’ve been supportive of him working with Brownback in Kansas, he wants to spend more time with them. He said one of the boys is entering high school, while the other is starting his senior year.

“We felt like this was a key time to be home,” Anderson said. “It was always my agreement with the governor that I wouldn’t stay the full first term.”

Brownback has successfully pursued cuts in the state’s personal income taxes expected to be worth a total of $4.1billion through mid-2018. Critics have argued that the cuts will lead to budget problems and starve public schools, higher education and social services of funds. But Anderson, like the governor, thinks they will permanently boost the state’s economy.

“We’re just starting to reap the benefits,” Anderson said.

Anderson also worked in the Oklahoma Office of State Finance under Gov. Frank Keating, a conservative Republican who held the office in 1995-2003 and successfully pushed to cut that state’s income taxes. Anderson also is friend of current Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, another GOP conservative who has advocated income tax cuts.

Anderson said Keating’s push for tax cuts “very much shaped my view” of fiscal policy.

“I saw that it worked,” he said. “And I saw that we didn’t go fast enough.”

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