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Kan. governor says budget director is resigning

Published on -8/16/2013, 3:03 PM

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas Budget Director Steve Anderson is resigning at the end of the month for personal reasons, after more than three years as an architect of conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's fiscal policies and a vocal advocate for massive state income tax cuts.

Brownback's office announced Friday that Anderson's resignation is effective Aug. 31. The governor praised Anderson in a statement for helping the administration erase a recession-induced budget shortfall when Brownback took office in January 2011. The governor said Anderson's work also positioned Kansas "to compete in a global economy."

"We spent a lot of time talking back and forth about tax policy and how it fit with the budget," said Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan, another key Brownback adviser. "Steve's bright, obviously -- CPA, had a lot of financial wisdom."

Anderson, a 59-year-old certified public accountant, became Brownback's top budget adviser in December 2010. Some Democratic and moderate GOP legislators immediately viewed Anderson with suspicion because he'd been a consultant for the anti-tax, small-government group Americans for Prosperity.

The wariness continued as Brownback successfully pursued cuts in personal income taxes expected to be worth $4.1 billion through mid-2018. Critics have argued that the cuts will lead to budget problems and starve public schools, higher education and social services of funds while benefiting the wealthy.

"He was more of an ideologue than what we really needed in a budget director," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat.

Also, in February, Anderson publicly apologized for the Budget Division supplying Brownback with an erroneous figure -- off some $2 billion -- that led the governor to make incorrect statements about state spending in public presentations. Anderson later told a meeting of Republicans that he'd offered to resign but joked that the governor told him, "You're not getting off that easy."

But House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat who's considering a run for governor next year, said because of the incident, "There was reason to question Mr. Anderson's credibility."

Anderson said Friday that the division quickly corrected its data and updated its data-handling procedures to prevent another such mistake. He and Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the incident played no role in his departure.

Instead, Anderson noted he and his wife are raising two grandsons in Edmond, Okla., where he still has an accounting firm, and, while they've been supportive of him working with Brownback in Kansas, he wants to spend more time with them. He said one of the boys is entering high school, while the other is starting his senior year.

"We felt like this was a key time to be home," Anderson said in an interview. "It was always my agreement with the governor that I wouldn't stay the full first term."

Anderson believes Kansans universally will benefit from the income tax cuts and the economy will be permanently boosted.

"We're just starting to reap the benefits," Anderson said.

Anderson was born in Manhattan and grew up in the small town of Oberlin in northwest Kansas.

But he worked in the Oklahoma Office of State Finance under Gov. Frank Keating, a conservative Republican who held the office in 1995-2003 and successfully pushed to cut that state's income taxes. Anderson also is friend of current Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, another GOP conservative who's advocated income tax cuts.

Anderson said Keating's push for tax cuts "very much shaped my view" of fiscal policy.

"I saw that it worked," he said. "And I saw that we didn't go fast enough."

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Online:

Kansas Budget Division: http://budget.ks.gov/

Kansas governor: https://governor.ks.gov/

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter at www.twitter.com/apjdhanna

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