Gov. Sam Brownback said Thursday that he plans to hold a number of governor's summits on key areas to grow Kansas' economy, including the aviation industry.
Other summits will focus on agritourism, animal agriculture and renewable energy, including wind. The summits are planned for the second quarter of this year.
Each summit will be headed by a Cabinet secretary and will involve stakeholders from across the state.
Speaking to about 150 people at the Andover Rotary Club at Terradyne Country Club, Brownback touched on a variety of topics, including how growing the economy was the key to getting Kansas out of financial trouble.
"We're not going to raise taxes," he said. "That's not the way to grow the economy."
Andover was Brownback's first of three stops in two days as he seeks to rally support for his budget proposals and economic plans.
He highlighted two of his proposals to spur economic growth for a state that faces a nearly $500 million deficit for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
One involves creating a cash fund for what he called a "deal closer" to help bring new businesses to Kansas. Other states have similar funds.
Hopes are the Kansas fund would grow between $50 million to $100 million over the next five years.
A company would be required to meet certain requirements, such as jobs, but the fund wouldn't have many of the regulation obstacles required by other economic incentive plans, Secretary of Commerce Pat George said. The fund would be used to help in areas such as moving expenses.
"We need to get where we can close deals," Brownback said.
Another proposal calls for allowing businesses to immediately take a tax deduction of 100 percent of the cost of capital improvements, such as buying equipment, rather than depreciate a percentage over time.
The federal government is allowing the 100 percent expensing this year. Under Brownback's proposal, the state would start doing it in 2012.
Brownback addressed the aviation industry several times during his 30-minute talk.
"We need to find what we can do to grow this industry and keep it here," he said. "You have a lot of competitors trying to get into the aviation space."
His budget would spend $13.9 billion in federal and state dollars. He is seeking to cut about $750 million from state spending.
"I'm not one that likes across-the-board cuts," Brownback said. "Some people say just cut everything 5 percent, 10 percent. ... But to me that's not managing.
"That's just saying, 'This is a political answer.' It's not saying, 'You know what, we really need to invest more money in this place.' It's targeted."
He said aviation technology is another area that needs more state investment.
"That will grow the other side of the equation," Brownback said.
At the same time, he said, areas that aren't core responsibilities of the government should be eliminated.
Shortly after taking office in January, Brownback proposed eliminating or consolidating eight state agencies for 2012.
One of those is the state's Arts Commission, which Brownback proposes to replace with a private, nonprofit organization. Eliminating the commission would save the state nearly $600,000 a year, he has said.
But a Senate committee took the first step Thursday to block Brownback's attempt to do away with the commission. It passed a resolution to bring the matter before the full Senate.
"I've gotten a lot of push-back," he said. "But when you're looking at a $500 million hole, when you look at declining federal money coming to the state, when you're looking at a long-term structural problem with Medicaid, I think we have to move forward in an aggressive fashion."
Brownback said spending on Medicaid is the fastest growing area in the state budget. He said he and other governors have pressed President Obama to give states more options so they can manage Medicaid budgets.
"This is a tough time," Brownback said. "We're going through some difficult budget discussions. But I know we can do it; we have to do it."