Neufeld appoints two spending critics to board

Kansas Taxpayer Transparency Program aims to inform residents of where tax dollars go

? House Speaker Melvin Neufeld has appointed two vocal critics of state government spending to a board that is supposed to help Kansans get more information about where their tax dollars go.

Neufeld appointed state Rep. Kasha Kelley, R-Arkansas City, and Alan Cobb, director of the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, to serve on the Kansas Public Finance Transparency Board.

The board was established by recent legislation to work with the Department of Administration in setting up a Web site that will contain information about state agency spending and other databases.

“Legislators during the last session expressed a strong desire to help Kansans understand how the state spends its tax dollars through the establishment of the Kansas Taxpayer Transparency Program,” said Neufeld, R-Ingalls.

“I believe it is vitally important that government be as open as possible,” he said.

The program allocates $4.4 million for a new central computer system and places in operation by March 2008 a searchable Web site for state agency expenditures and revenues, bonded indebtedness and other budgetary information.

Kelley, who has criticized increases in state spending, was a primary sponsor of the legislation that set up the program.

“Kansans can only have more of a say in how their state government functions if they understand what is going on. Transparency to state spending is key to that understanding,” Kelley said.

Cobb, the director of the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, had said passage of the transparency provision was a silver lining in the budget process.

“I look forward to serving with an eye reflecting the citizen and the taxpayer,” Cobb said.

Cobb has been at the center of a fiery debate in the Statehouse in pushing for the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

TABOR is a proposed constitutional amendment that would require voter approval of state tax increases, limit state spending increases to the inflation rate and refund taxes above that amount.

AFP and its supporters hoped to get the measure on the ballot in 2006, but the amendment lacked necessary support in the Legislature.

The proposal was opposed by a broad coalition of education, social service and some business groups that said it would hinder the government’s ability to invest in needed services and respond to emergencies.

Neufeld voiced support of both Kelley and Cobb.

He said Kelley has been committed to limiting government. Of Cobb, he said: “He is well-respected around the state and was recommended by a number of business leaders. I am confident he will represent Kansans well.”