The time has come for Gov. Sam Brownback to go.
We don’t know if the governor has been offered a job in President Donald Trump’s administration, although rumors of Brownback’s departure have circulated for months. The governor would take a federal job, we’re told, if the right opportunity presented itself.
Let’s hope, for the governor’s sake and the state’s, that a Trump administration job is offered — and accepted.
Not everyone shares this view. Some Kansans think the governor owes the state his full attention for the next two years. The budget hole Brownback helped create is so deep, they argue, that he has a moral obligation to stay on the job in Topeka until it’s fixed.
But once you agree the budget disaster needs repair, you must decide if a fix is more likely with Brownback in the picture or out of it. The answer seems clear.
Making laws and policy isn’t always about numbers and projections. Personalities play an important role in the legislative process, too. And it’s obvious most lawmakers in both parties see Brownback as a stubborn impediment to fixing the tax and spending crisis in Kansas.
Some of this is the fault of lawmakers. But almost all of the blame rests on the shoulders of the governor, whose unwillingness to admit failure has hindered progress for years. A simple apology, coupled with a promise to look for meaningful compromise, would have paved the way for a constructive dialogue with legislators — and a better Kansas.
Brownback has a large vocabulary, but “I’m sorry” are not words he recognizes. The result has been an untenable stalemate and unhappiness on all sides in Topeka. And, by the way, he’s the most unpopular governor in America.
We have some experience with this. In 2009, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius left before her second term ended to take a job with the Obama administration. Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, who was elevated to the state’s top job, was able to cut deals with state legislators on taxes and energy, agreements out of the reach of Sebelius.
We don’t know if Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer would be able to work with lawmakers as Parkinson did. But there’s at least some chance Colyer and legislative leaders could come to an agreement on a fair tax policy, reasonable spending and a school finance plan.
With Brownback still in Topeka, the chances of such a deal seem remote. Almost nonexistent.
Kansas will eventually move on from the Sam Brownback era, one way or another. If the governor can find an appealing job somewhere else, he should take it, with our congratulations and best wishes. Then we can get on with the business of fixing the damage he has caused.