Incoming Kansas governor Sam Brownback has made some appointments to his economic team. Two of the appointments illustrate why Kansans need to maintain a cautious watch on Brownback as he takes over the governor’s office. A third gives us hope that the Kansas budget can be fully understood and managed.
The major mistake made by the new governor is retaining Deb Miller as Kansas Secretary of Transportation. Miller promoted the very expensive and largely unneeded highway plan that passed the legislature and was signed by the governor. She also promotes the expansion of passenger rail service in Kansas, which is a very expensive proposition that will be used by very few people.
An appointment that has both positive and negative aspects is that of Nick Jordan to be Kansas Secretary of Revenue. Jordan served in the Kansas Senate for several terms where he earned a moderate-to-conservative voting record, based on my assessment of ratings from the Kansas Taxpayers Network. The most troublesome aspect of Jordan’s legislative career is his shepherding of the Kansas Economic Growth Act. This legislation greatly expanded the power of the state to engage in large-scale economic intervention. It’s all in the name of growing the economy of Kansas, which is a noble and desirable goal. But the legislation presumes that government knows how to grow an economy better than markets do, which is a false presumption.
The very pleasant surprise is the appointment of Steven J. Andersonas Budget Director. He has worked to develop model budgets for Americans for Prosperity. He also prepared a document titled Analysis of State Unencumbered Fund Balances in Kansas for the Kansas Policy Institute.