TOPEKA — Growth for Kansas will be his platform in the campaign for governor, Sen. Sam Brownback told a Republican crowd Saturday at the end of the party's Kansas Day celebration.
To succeed coming out of the recession, the state has to be ready to grow, which means fewer regulations and fewer taxes, he said.
Brownback, who is leaving the U.S. Senate to run for governor — a seat he is favored to win with no big-name Democratic opponent to date — was the event's keynote speaker.
"We are not creating jobs and opportunities in this state the way we need to," Brownback said. "Coming out of this recession, if you are not pro-growth then God help you, because people and businesses are going to move."
The state has the leadership and the people to do that, he said. Republicans control both houses of the Legislature, but haven't controlled the governor's office since Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, now U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, took office in 2003.
"We have great leadership in the Senate and great leadership in the House and I'm hopeful to provide that as governor," Brownback said.
The key measure of success if he were elected governor would be if Kansans' net family income grew during his term, Brownback said.
"That is a good measurable, it is a clear measurable, it is a known measurable and it is one we need to drive forward," he said.
He also said that Kansas must focus on education, calling it the state's "primary function" and comparing state education spending to national defense spending.
With Kansas facing a $400 million shortfall for the 2011 budget, many conservative lawmakers have said more cuts to education spending are necessary. Democrats have opposed the idea.
Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, proposed a $5.8 billion state budget that would use a three-year, 1 percentage point increase to the state sales tax and increased cigarette and tobacco taxes to fill the gap.
More cuts to state agencies would cripple programs that have already seen $1 billion cut from spending by the governor and lawmakers over the past year, Parkinson has said.
K-12 education takes up more than 51 percent of state spending. Add in higher education, and education takes up two-thirds of the state budget, Brownback said.
He promised that the state would take care of education but said it must be innovative.
Earlier Saturday, the GOP State Committee approved "Our Commitment for Kansas," which party leaders called a framework for a more detailed platform to come.
It advocates a simplified tax system, U.S. energy in dependence and protecting "every single life."
Some committee members criticized the document as vague, and GOP leaders had to ask for a show of hands for its approval. The vote was 95-58.
State party chairwoman Amanda Adkins told the committee that she sees the Kansas GOP as "a conservative party of ideas." Discussions involving more than 100 people led to the document.
It doesn't specifically mention abortion or other social issues. On health care, it concludes, "We need to return to a strong alignment between the person and their provider."
"Probably 95 percent of this could apply to Democrats," said Rich Kiper, a GOP activist from Leavenworth. "This is a very generic document."
Adkins said the party still plans to develop a detailed platform and approve it in late April.
The commitment "starts to paint a positive picture of where the Republican Party wants to take Kansas," said Kansas Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, of Independence.