TOPEKA — Gov.-elect U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback gave the first glimpse of what his administration will look like Tuesday.
Brownback, a Republican, announced several Cabinet positions, part of what he's dubbed his "economic growth team." Among the nominees: Republican lawmakers and former lawmakers, a former Cargill executive and a lone Democrat, current Transportation Secretary Deb Miller.
He named as his budget director Steve Anderson, a CPA who has developed state budget proposals for the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity and has worked with the free-market think tank Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.
"This team brings together eastern and western Kansas, private and public sector backgrounds, and all ranges of the political spectrum," Brownback said.
The five Cabinet nominations still need final approval by the Senate.
* State Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, 55, as secretary of labor. She has served as chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee.
* State Rep. Pat George, R-Dodge City, 54, as secretary of commerce. He served on the House Taxation Committee and helped develop a new state employee pay structure.
* Former state Sen. Nick Jordan, R-Shawnee, 61, as secretary of revenue. Jordan was an architect of the Kansas Biosciences Authority, which is working to bring the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility to Manhattan.
* Miller, 55, originally appointed by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
* Dale Rodman, 69, as secretary of agriculture. He is a Eureka agribusiness consultant and former Cargill executive who retired in 2002.
The picks are a good indication that state government "will certainly not grow and perhaps contract some modest amount," said Joe Aistrup, a political science professor and associate dean of arts and sciences at Kansas State University who is a Democrat.
"We have a major sweep by Kansas Republicans whereby a conservative-minded governor has been elected, and you're seeing that this ideological imprint is going to be basically up and down the cabinet," Aistrup said.
Anderson is a managing partner of the Edmond, Okla., office of Anderson, Reichert & Anderson, CPA. He earned his bachelor's degree in accounting and finance at Fort Hays State University.
Anderson said he was impressed by Brownback. Although there is not much time before the proposed 2012 budget will be unveiled in January, Anderson expected Brownback to be able to guide the proposal.
"When the governor-elect is done, we will know a direction, and it will be a direction that the taxpayers, citizens and recipients of services in Kansas will say 'This is great,' " he said.
Brownback is expected to present a budget to legislators shortly after he is sworn in Jan. 10. He said specific economic policies and initiatives would be released within 30 days of his taking office, something he promised during the campaign.
Anderson's job will be to develop a budget that closes a projected revenue shortfall of nearly $500 million in the next fiscal year. The state chapter of Americans for Prosperity developed a proposed state budget that would trim Kansas government spending without raising taxes. Legislators didn't follow the model, instead relying on federal stimulus funding and raising the state's sales tax by 1 cent per dollar.
"The next few years are not going to be easy. We're going to have to make some difficult choices," Brownback said.
Brownback said he would push his team to grow private-sector jobs and increase net income in Kansas.
"I'm going to be beating on these guys every day to say we have got to move the dial on the two key goals," Brownback said.
Jordan acknowledged there might be an effort to overturn the sales tax increase lawmakers passed during the 2010 session, but said, "I think we are going to be looking more at comprehensive tax policy for the state that really does benefit the business and helps the residents of the state."
He did not have details about what those changes might be.
State Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said she was excited about the picks and had been hearing positive comments from the business community since the announcement.
"They are saying, 'These are people we can work with,' " she said.
Wagle was not surprised that Brownback retained Miller, a Democrat.
"She is staying because she is good at what she does, and Sam valued her talent," Wagle said.
Miller said she believed that transportation could help grow and improve the Kansas economy. She didn't expect her job to change much under the new administration.
"I have always been very clear that I am working for the taxpayers in the state of Kansas and I'm still working for the taxpayers in the state of Kansas," she said.