Topeka Legislators are trying to prevent a repeat of the recently discovered $17 million mistake, but some said Thursday that the proposed fix makes things worse.
Last month, legislators found that $17 million that was supposed to be set aside for legal battles to protect Kansas water rights had been moved into the state’s all-purpose general fund and spent in other areas of the budget. The mistake was made through an error written in a budget bill, legislators said.
On Thursday, the attorney general’s office voiced support of Senate Bill 558 which is designed to protect those water litigation funds from being transferred.
That got the support of agricultural groups whose farmers depend on the state fighting for upstream river releases from the states of Colorado and Nebraska.
Steve Swaffar, of the Kansas Farm Bureau, said he would like to see the water litigation funds put in a lockbox with a chain around it “so it takes weapon-grade explosives to get to it.”
But state Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said SB 558 went too far. The bill would also protect the funds from any possible emergency budget cutting by the governor.
“You restrict the governor’s allotment powers and every agency will bring that bill, and pretty soon the governor will not have allotment power,” Vratil said.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee took no action on the measure.