Former Brownback economics adviser declares for Kansas state treasurer race

    Michael Austin, a former economist for the Kansas Policy Institute and adviser to Gov. Sam Brownback, announced he would be running for Kansas state treasurer Monday. (Screen capture of Kansas Legislature YouTube)

    TOPEKA — A former adviser to Gov. Sam Brownback announced Monday he would be entering the race for Kansas state treasurer.

    Michael Austin — who recently left his post with the conservative think tank Kansas Policy Institute — listed expanding school choice, improving fiscal literacy in younger Kansans and limiting what he views as ineffective and wasteful government spending as among the priorities of his “conservative platform.” 

    “Under Governor Kelly and President Biden, the Kansas government has wasted taxpayer money while demanding Kansas families and businesses tighten their fiscal belts,” Austin said. “I am not a politician but an advocate for taxpayers. I have years of economic experience and am the most qualified candidate in this race. I have advised legislators to protect Kansas taxpayers’ interests, and I will respect their money and return their freedom” 

    The announcement comes a week after Austin filed paperwork for a possible run. He joins Rep. Steven Johnson, an Assaria Republican, who declared his intention to run for state treasurer last month. 

    The winner of the Republican primary will look to unseat incumbent Lynn Rogers, a Democrat, who Gov. Laura Kelly appointed to fill the vacancy left by Republican Jake LaTurner after he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Rogers’ appointment drew criticism from Republicans who felt appointing a member of a different party went against the will of Kansas voters.

    Before joining Kansas Policy Institute, which frequently lobbies at the statehouse, Austin served as a financial analyst at the Kansas Department of Revenue. He served as a chief economic adviser to Brownback beginning in 2014.

    Austin graduated from Washburn University’s school of business before receiving a master’s in economics from the University of Kansas.

    This story has been corrected to reflect that Austin began working for Brownback in 2014, instead of in 2012