Topeka — Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday vetoed funding for a state economic development agency that has been under fire from some lawmakers.
In her veto message, Sebelius said the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. “has struggled to produce a solid return on our investment in recent years.
“It makes little sense to use the same system and expect different results,” she said.
But Tracy Taylor, president and chief executive officer of KTEC, said he would seek to have the funding restored. Lawmakers return for a wrap-up session April 29.
“KTEC and its supporters understand it is now vital to continue to fight for KTEC and the innovation-based economy it has worked to build for Kansas,” he said.
Sebelius signed into law the state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, but applied her line-item vetoes to several areas, including KTEC funding.
Earlier this year, Sebelius, in a cost-cutting move, proposed shutting down KTEC and moving its functions to the Kansas Department of Commerce. In the current fiscal year, KTEC received $13.8 million, mostly from funds transferred from lottery ticket sales.
A recent evaluation of KTEC said the agency, formed in 1986 to assist in the creation and growth of technology-based companies, should remain in existence, but needed to change. The report also said that the state was falling behind other states in technology development rankings.
Sebelius said her veto would give lawmakers the chance “to thoroughly review this program to ensure Kansas is positioned to develop a strong economy for years to come.”
Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, has called for transferring KTEC programs to the Commerce Department and the state’s universities. Earlier this year, he criticized the agency for failing to respond to his request for information about its expenditures.
“Unfortunately, the agency has failed in its mission and has been plagued by a lack of transparency,” Holland said.
He said Sebelius’ veto gives the Legislature a chance to look “for new and better ways to reduce overhead costs while delivering critical investments in our state’s economy.”