Born to Robert and Nancy Brownback, Sam grew up on the family farm near Parker, Kansas. His parents still live and work on the family farm.
Growing up, Sam learned the importance of hard work, responsibility and family. He watched his parents persevere during droughts and heavy rains. He worked alongside his family to bring in the crops and take care of the livestock.
Sam’s passion for public service began when he attended Prairie View High School when he was elected state president of the Future Farmers of America and then later national FFA vice-president. His participation in FFA taught him about leadership.
After graduating for Prairie View in 1974, Sam attended Kansas State University in Manhattan where he served as KSU student body president his senior year. He also belonged to the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. He received his degree in Agricultural Economics in 1978.
After working for a year hosting a radio show, Sam attended the University of Kansas Law School where he was his class' president before completing his law degree in 1982.
Sam met his wife Mary while they were both in law school. They have been married for 28 years.
Sam calls Mary “the glue that holds our family together”. They live in Topeka and have five children – Abby, Andy, Liz, Mark and Jenna. After their own adoption experience, the Brownbacks helped establish the Building Families Fund to assist Kansas families with adoption expenses.
After law school, Sam and Mary moved to Manhattan where Sam went to work for a local law firm and Mary commuted to Lawrence to finish her law degree. While in Manhattan, Sam also taught agricultural law at Kansas State University and co-authored two books on the subject.
A Career of Public Service
In 1986 two events took place for Sam and Mary. Their first child, Abby, was born and Sam became Secretary of the Kansas Board of Agriculture, the youngest in state history.
The farming industry was struggling in the late 80s. Sam worked to renew the rural heartland by actively engaging in re-opening U.S. beef trade in Asia; expanding market opportunities for agriculture products; and promoting new uses of farm commodities.
During his time as Ag Secretary, Sam served as a White House Fellow in the first Bush Administration.
In 1994 Sam was elected to congress in the Republican Revolution that brought the first Republican-controlled House of Representatives to Washington since Dwight D. Eisenhower was President. Sam was selected by his classmates to be the head of the New Federalist, a group focused on producing a smaller federal government and a balanced budget.
Two years later Kansans elected Sam to the U.S. Senate seat once held by Bob Dole. In the Senate, Sam was an effective advocate for Kansas interests. From his position on the powerful Appropriations Committee, he supported vital transportation projects, creating thousands of Kansas jobs and improving the competitiveness of Kansas businesses. He also won significant support for Kansas schools including the National Institute for Aviation Research in Wichita, KU Med Center and the Kansas Polymer Research Center at Pittsburg State University.
He served as the top-ranking Republican on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees U.S. Department of Agriculture programs as well as food safety and agencies responsible for protection of public health such as the Food and Drug Administration.
And as a member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, Sam's top priority was to insure full support for the National Bio-Agri Defense facility in Kansas. As part of the team that won this competition for Kansas, Sam worked hard to see that Kansas reaped the full benefits of this exciting development, new high-paying jobs, value-added research and billions of dollars in long-term economic development.
Sam also pushed for meaningful tax reform and an optional flat tax, a BRAC-like commission to review and terminate failed or completed federal programs, and to build market and consumer based solutions to health care reform. He was a founding member of the Senate Fiscal Watch Team and strongly supports a balanced budget and reform of the earmark and appropriations process.
He believed deeply then as he does now that we must defend traditional marriage, confirm judges who will interpret the law and not legislate from the bench, protect and renew our American culture and defend innocent human life at every stage of development.
He pledged he would serve only two elected terms in the U.S. Senate and in 2010 honored his pledge and did not seek reelection in 2010.
As governor, Sam is focused on getting the state’s economy growing again. Kansas is in its third year of declining revenues. It has forced the state to cut nearly a billion dollars in spending. Despite these efforts, Kansas still faces a $500 million budget shortfall in Fiscal Year 2012.
Sam believes the only lasting solution to our state’s fiscal crisis is sustained economic growth and new job creation. Getting the more than 110,000 unemployed Kansans working again and businesses growing will lead to increased revenues, less reliance on government, and funding for core state programs and services.
Governor Brownback is working with Kansas business and community leaders from across the state as well as current and former state legislators to craft policy solutions. His “Road Map for Kansas” is a detailed plan to Grow the State’s Economy; Excel in Education; Reform State Government and Protect Kansas Families.