A bill that would require approval from top elected officials before a state agency could apply for federal stimulus funds was criticized Wednesday by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ administration as unnecessary and possibly harmful in Kansas’ efforts to get its share of recovery dollars.
Sebelius’ budget director Duane Goossen said Senate Bill 296 “could actually slow things down and really hinder our ability in some areas to access the money in a timely manner.”
But state Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, said his bill would ensure that state officials understood whether there were any federal mandates attached to the federal monies and whether the expenditures were reasonable.
“I consider this due diligence,” Abrams told the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “We should not step up and sign up for this thing without understanding what we are getting into,” he said.
Kansas will receive about $1.7 billion under the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.
Goossen and several committee members said the state already has in place numerous checks to ensure that the money is properly spent. And they said the Legislature, through its budgeting process, has oversight over the expenditures.
A portion of the bill would prohibit state agencies from applying for federal funding without prior approval of the State Finance Council, which is composed of the governor and legislative leaders.
Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller said that provision could endanger some federal highway funding coming to Kansas because the state is under strict deadlines on using those monies.