Citing illness, Gov. Sam Brownback canceled a scheduled appearance to make a farewell speech Friday to a Wichita Republican club.
Details of Brownback’s illness were not disclosed and the governor’s office did not return phone messages seeking clarification on the governor’s health.
Revenue Secretary Sam Williams, who stood in for Brownback at the luncheon meeting, said he didn’t know the nature of Brownback’s illness. He said he received a message Friday morning informing him that the governor was ill and asking whether he could go and speak to the Wichita Pachyderm Club in the governor’s place.
Pachyderm president John Stevens said he also had been notified by e-mail, which didn’t specify what was ailing the governor.
Susan Estes, the wife of U.S. Rep. Ron Estes of Wichita, circulated a get-well-soon card that was signed by almost all the Pachyderm members.
The topic of Brownback’s speech was to have been “Farewell and Thanks!”
Brownback has been appointed by President Trump as international ambassador for religious freedom. He has announced his intentions to resign as governor once the Senate confirms the appointment.
Brownback has occasionally spoken at the club during his 6 1/2 years as governor, most recently in October.
Williams, a former Wichita ad executive, talked mostly about his efforts to increase efficiency in the processes of tax collection.
He said he’s done that in some cases by putting what had been multiple departments under a single department head and shifting resources to auditing to respond more quickly for taxpayers.
Asked about the tax increases passed by the Legislature earlier this year, Williams declined to offer a specific opinion, saying his role is not to make policy, but to supply information to legislators.
Williams stood by statements that he made in late June that unless spending is cut, taxes will have to be raised again to balance the budget in two years.
However, he said there is time to deal with it. He said that while he’s conservative, he’s hoping conservatives and progressives can come together and work out a solution.
“The reality is there’s going to be two (legislative) sessions between now and then, right?” Williams said. “So there’s lots of things that can happen and a lot of things can change.
“Talking about these things now is not to criticize and tear it down, but to say this is going to come, let’s fix it.”