After seven years of turbulent finances under Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Kansas begins a new era as Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer takes over from the departing governor.
Colyer planned to attend a mass at his former Catholic high school in Hays before taking the oath of office Wednesday, when Brownback's resignation takes effect.
In 2017, the Kansas Legislature overrode Brownback’s veto of a tax increase designed to end years of revenue shortfalls. Raising the state income tax by $1.2 billion over two years, the vote was seen as a final rejection of Brownback’s plan to steadily reduce and eventually eliminate the state income tax.
"Sam Brownback will be remembered for becoming the most unpopular governor in America," Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, said in a statement on Twitter when Brownback’s appointment was announced last year. "His tax experiment failed to grow the economy as he promised. Instead, his policies have bankrupted our state."
The milestone tax vote came in a legislature shaken up by a 2016 Republican primary election that booted many of Brownback’s allies.
This January, Brownback urged lawmakers to provide an additional $600 million for public schools to resolve a state Supreme Court ruling that current funding is inadequate.
In his final State of the State address to the Kansas Legislature, Brownback did not specify where the money would come from but said he did not support a tax increase.
Before he was elected as the state’s 46th governor, Brownback was a U.S. senator who often aligned with right-wing Christian groups that strongly supported Trump’s campaign for president.
Brownback, who will become President Trump’s ambassador for religious freedom, ended his tenure in Topeka with a call for prayer and fasting.
“I personally feel blessed by the time I have spent serving our great state and would like to observe a time of prayer and fasting before God takes me on to the next part of my journey,” Brownback said.