- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A top Republican in the Kansas Senate announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election, partly in response to his colleagues’ unwillingness to address the state’s budget problems.

Senate Vice President Jeff King of Independence issued a statement saying the Legislature’s recent veto session - in which his colleagues approved a budget that leaves it up to Gov. Sam Brownback to make deep cuts to balance it - “shows the harm of putting politics over good government.”

“I am not attacking the right. I am not attacking the left. … I think we as a state are focused too much on politics, on gotcha votes, on trying to make the other look as bad as possible rather than make the state as good as possible,” he told The Wichita Eagle (https://bit.ly/1VLyUeE ).

King played a key role in reforming the state’s pension system during Brownback’s first term to put it on more secure financial footing. He strongly objected to the Legislature’s decision this week to delay a $96 million payment to the pension fund as part of the budget fix.

A day after the budget passed, Moody’s Investor Services gave the state a negative credit outlook, specifically citing the pension delay.

King was the only member of Senate leadership to vote against the budget.

He called his support in 2012 for legislation pushed by the governor to exempt pass-through business owners from income taxes an error and lamented that efforts to roll back the exemption this year failed to gain traction.

“If we can no longer stick out our necks by proposing innovative ideas and solutions to our most daunting problems, and if we punish those who do, what is left of our role as legislators? To blindly follow the status quo, to put out the same mundane sound bites crafted to say as little as possible, and to repeat the cycle?” he said in the statement. “That’s not governing. That’s not what Kansans elected us to do. That’s political cowardice that cannot be rewarded.”

An attorney, King was elected to the Kansas House in 2006 and the Senate in 2010. He became vice president after conservatives took control of the chamber in 2012 and also served as Senate Judiciary chairman.

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