A Wichita businessman running for governor said Thursday that Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax plan was good policy poorly implemented, and, if elected, within two years he could eliminate wasteful state spending.
Wink Hartman, who launched his campaign in February for the Republican nomination for governor, stopped in Hays on Thursday on the third day of a four-day, 12-stop tour of the state.
About five people stopped in at American Shooters, 1007 Vine, during the hour-long stop to listen to Hartman and ask questions.
Hartman was critical of the state for not becoming more efficient in its spending after passing Brownback’s plan in 2012 that lowered the personal income tax rate and eliminated income tax on profits for owners of some companies.
“In any business, just like the gun shop we’re in here, any business that knows they’re going to have less revenue coming in, they’d better immediately begin to figure out how to spend less money,” he said.
“If you’re going to continue to spend money you don’t have, wasteful spending, and you’re going to increase spending on top of wasteful spending, you’re doomed to failure, and that’s exactly what happened in Kansas.”
As examples of wasteful spending, Hartman cited computer equipment stored in the basement of the Docking State Office Building in Topeka.
The Topeka Capital Journal reported in May the state had unused IT equipment from an abandoned cloud-computing project in a locked room it was not able to sell. The computers were reportedly worth $10 million, with a total of $17 million spent on the project before it was abandoned.
He also mentioned the state has “dozens” of contracts with providers for its cellphones.
“I have one provider for all my cell phones” for his companies, he said.
“There’s staggering savings by consolidating into one contract,” he said.
The state could likewise save money by paying its bills on their due dates, using its purchasing power to negotiate for discounts for early payment and consolidating services spread throughout the state, like human resources.
“It’s low-hanging fruit that nobody’s taking advantage of and implementing the strategy to take that money,” he said.
Those inefficiencies, he said, are taking away from the true needs of Kansans.
“We can still provide the same services, hopefully better services,” he said.
“It’s going to take some time to get that boat turned around.”
With the proper leadership, he said it could be done it two years.
“What you have to do is be inclusive,” he said.
“The governor is responsible to run the state. You have to be the leader, be inclusive and you bring the legislators in — Democrats, moderates, RINOs. Name all the names you want to name, whatever they may be, you have to sit them down at the table. You have to look them in the eye and explain the vision that you have for the state.
“Some are going to buy in, some aren’t going to buy in. But at least we have a common ground to know where I’m going.”
He said he didn’t want to be negative about Brownback, but he did criticize the governor’s lack of taking a stance on issues the state faced.
“He has done a good job in many areas, but the reality is we need somebody who stands in the front of the line and is willing to take and lead this state in all areas.
“The governor has the bully pulpit. As the leader of the state, he should have been out on the stump on school finance, on taxes.
“When you don’t meet the people, talk to them, explain your vision, then you have a Legislature we just went through, where you have four or five different factions going five different directions,” he said.
“What I see is total chaos, bad policy, and if you continue down that path, it’s going to get much, much worse.”
In his four-day tour, Hartman also stopped in Colby, Pratt, Salina, Parsons and Winfield after starting in Wichita.