Archive for Tuesday, October 26, 2004

SRS secretary announces retirement plans at budget briefing

October 26, 2004


— The state welfare agency's chief announced Monday she would step down effective Sunday.

Janet Schalansky, 54, announced she will retire after 31 years with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. She has led the agency since 1999.

The announcement came during a routine briefing during which SRS officials said they would seek a 6 percent increase in the agency's budget next year while admitting they don't expect to get that much.

"We don't expect to see significant growth," Schalansky said.

SRS submitted two budget proposals to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' office. One would increase spending from $2.58 billion to $2.741 billion, about 6 percent. The budget increase would provide for home health services to nearly 1,700 elderly and disabled Kansans on waiting lists.

The agency also submitted a proposal that would reduce spending by 5 percent, cutting numerous programs to help the poor and sick.

Schalansky and other state officials indicated Monday that neither significant cuts nor significant increases were on the horizon.

Sebelius budget director Duane Goossen said the state had made it through tough budgetary times when cuts were made in SRS twice in 2002.

"We've left that time when we are worried about the present," Goossen said. But, he added, the state still faces tight revenues while Medicaid expenses continue to escalate.

Schalansky was appointed secretary by then-Gov. Bill Graves when Rochelle Chronister retired.

Sebelius has named Gary Daniels, administrator of the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center, as acting secretary. Spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said the governor expected to conduct a national search for a permanent replacement.

Schalansky began her SRS career in 1973 as an examiner and trainer in the department's disability determination center.

She said she made her decision to retire in recent weeks after reaching eligibility under the state pension system. Schalansky said she told people in August she was staying on the job through the governor's first term, as she promised Sebelius when appointed her in 2003. However, after returning from vacation, she made the decision to retire.

During her tenure, Schalansky began a reorganization designed to reduce the number of field offices while improving customer service and increasing access points for services.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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