Tax cuts a centerpiece in State of the State address
Taxes took center stage during Governor Sam Brownback's State of the State address Tuesday night in Topeka.
The governor called for continued cuts in the income tax with the eventual goal of eliminating the income tax completely. He said cuts that have already been made in Topeka are paying dividends.
"An all-time record of over 15,000 new business organizations formed and filed in the state of Kansas last year alone," Brownback said. "A great sign of economic growth and that this plan is working."
The governor said he wants to take the courts out of the process of deciding school funding levels. He called for a change in the state's constitution to give the Legislature the sole power in determining how much money is needed in schools.
The governor said Kansas currently spends more on K-12 education than any surrounding state, about $12,600 per student. A three-judge panel recently ruled the state is not spending enough.
Brownback unveiled a plan to improve reading performance among Kansas fourth graders. He called on spending $12 million on innovative reading programs, creating incentives for successful schools and requiring third graders to demonstrate reading proficiency before they are allowed to move on.
"Passing children up the grade ladder, when we know they can't read, is irresponsible and it's cruel," Brownback said.
The governor called for the merger of the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Turnpike Authority under the direction of the Secretary of Transportation.
Brownback also said he supports direct election of judges to the Kansas Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. He said the current system of choosing higher judges leaves the process up to a special interest group.