Topeka Gov. Mark Parkinson’s view of what should happen to a state economic development agency is different from that of his predecessor, Kathleen Sebelius.
Parkinson said he is willing to allow a less-funded Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. to exist for now, while Sebelius wanted to eliminate the agency entirely.
A proposal by the Senate to reduce funding to KTEC from about $12 million to
$7 million and further study the agency’s role makes sense, Parkinson told the Lawrence Journal-World.
“My concern isn’t with KTEC,” Parkinson said. “My concern is that we have at least four different economic development agencies that are all trying to do basically the same thing.”
Parkinson has inherited Sebelius’ line-item veto of KTEC’s funding.
When the 2009 legislative session started, Sebelius wanted to abolish the agency and place its functions under the Kansas Department of Commerce.
But the Legislature funded KTEC, which drew Sebelius’ veto pen last month.
Sebelius said KTEC “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.”
But legislative leaders have been persistent in plugging funding back into KTEC, which was formed in 1986 to assist in the creation and growth of technology-based companies.
Last week, Sebelius became secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which elevated then-Lieutenant Gov. Parkinson to the governor’s job.
Parkinson said that he has heard from many detractors and supporters of KTEC.
A recent evaluation of KTEC said the agency should remain in existence but needed to change. The report also said that the state was falling behind other states in technology-development rankings.
Some lawmakers also have complained that KTEC operates too secretly, has conflicts of interest and has failed to divulge requested information.
But Parkinson said he has received e-mails from many people praising KTEC’s ability to help businesses get started and attract jobs to the state.
Parkinson added, “One of the frustrating things about government is, once an agency is created it never goes away.”