The budget bill now sitting on Gov. Mark Parkinson’s desk includes $7 million in funding for the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp., but there still is some uncertainty about the future of the agency.
During a news conference called to talk about the budget Monday, Parkinson was asked specifically about KTEC funding. He pointed out that $7 million was about what then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius originally had proposed for KTEC programs although she favored abolishing the agency and folding those programs into the Department of Commerce. Sebelius used a line-item veto to remove $12 million in KTEC funding that had been approved by the Legislature, which then reinstated $7 million for KTEC in its final budget.
Parkinson said Monday that he believes there is $7 million of value in the work KTEC is doing, but he continues to have reservations about the state funding four economic development agencies that are doing such similar work. His problem never has been with KTEC, he said, but with the potential duplication of efforts.
The new governor said he would take his time, probably over the next two weeks, to carefully review the budget passed by the Legislature last week. When he talked specifically about KTEC funding, he still was using the word “if.”
If he decides to approve the $7 million in KTEC funding, Parkinson said, he still would ask the Legislature over the summer to take a hard look at KTEC and whether it should continue as an independent agency or whether its work might be accomplished just as well or better by some other government entity.
Even if the $7 million is approved, the reduced budget will force changes in the way the agency operates. Rumors persist that one of those changes may be the exit of KTEC CEO Tracy Taylor. Perhaps that issue is a factor in Parkinson’s “if” on the KTEC budget.
Whether or not KTEC funding is approved for this year, it’s good that Parkinson is taking a hard look at this agency and how it might be changed to provide a greater benefit for the state.