Festivities leading up to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s swearing-in for a second term should have a familiar, restrain-the-glitz feel.
The Republican governor’s inaugural committee is sticking with the template from his first term four years ago. Community service events this week will lead up to a Saturday night dinner and ball in Topeka, followed by a Sunday prayer service in Wichita and the swearing-in ceremony Jan. 12 at the Statehouse.
The inaugural committee expects costs for “The Spirit of Kansas” events this year to be in line with the $396,000 from Brownback’s first inaugural, and it expects to raise enough money from private contributions and ticket sales to make significant donations to charities. Four years ago, Brownback’s committee donated more than $150,000.
Parties for GOP governors in Texas, Illinois and Georgia will boast entertainment from country music stars Lady Antebellum, Toby Keith and Alan Jackson, but the Brownback team isn’t following suit. Spokesman John Milburn said the goal is to keep costs down, though private funds pay for them.
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“Having a respectable, modest inauguration that’s fitting for Kansas is appropriate,” Milburn said.
The inaugural committee plans community service events in Dodge City, Topeka and the Kansas City area, ahead of the dinner and ball Saturday at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka. The prayer service will be Sunday at Newman University in Wichita.
The swearing-in for Brownback and other statewide elected officials will take place just hours before the Legislature opens its 90-day session on Jan. 12. Brownback plans to give the annual State of the State address Jan. 15, outlining his agenda for the session.
Tickets for the inaugural ball and dinner are $150 or $300 per person, depending on where someone is seated, or groups and companies can buy eight tickets for $2,000. The committee is keeping the menu under wraps.
As in 2011, the ball is headlined by a longstanding Topeka band, the Exceptions. It was a 2013 inductee to the Kansas Music Hall of Fame, and Milburn noted that it played at Brownback’s high school prom in the 1970s.
Four years ago, the inaugural committee paid $3,150 to book the Exceptions, compared with spending more than $129,000 on inaugural meals. Contributions to charity that year included $50,000 to the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, $30,153 to the Kansas Arts Foundation and $35,000 total to homeless shelters in four cities.
A state law requires the inaugural committee to file public reports in March and July, listing contributors and detailing spending. The law limits contributions to the committee to $2,000.
Legislators enacted the law in 1994, three years after Democratic Gov. Joan Finney’s inaugural. She insisted on tickets to the dinner and ball being free to the public, but her team tapped dozens of corporations and interest groups for contributions of up to $10,000, prompting criticism from some Republican legislators.