Advertisement

Archive for Friday, April 8, 2011

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s money-saving changes to take effect July 1

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback finishes with an executive reorganization order abolishing the state Parole Board after signing it, Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, at the Statehouse, in Topeka, Kan. The Parole Board's duties will be transferred to the Department of Corrections if legislators don't reject the order.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback finishes with an executive reorganization order abolishing the state Parole Board after signing it, Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, at the Statehouse, in Topeka, Kan. The Parole Board's duties will be transferred to the Department of Corrections if legislators don't reject the order.

April 8, 2011

Advertisement

— Kansas will abolish its Parole Board and make other changes in state government designed to trim spending because the Legislature has allowed six executive reorganization orders from Gov. Sam Brownback to stand.

Legislators have until today to block the last of Brownback’s reorganization orders, but they’re taking their annual spring break and don’t reconvene until April 27. The governor’s plans take effect July 1, and his administration expects them to reduce spending by $4.7 million annually.

The Parole Board’s job of deciding which inmates can be released early from prison will be transferred to a Department of Corrections panel. An independent health policy agency will become part of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Department of Agriculture will absorb two small agencies.

The savings represent a tiny fraction of the state’s $14 billion annual budget, but Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said they’re significant steps toward “getting our financial house in order.”

“It’s a great first step in restructuring our government,” she said.

Some legislators want to keep the Parole Board, and the Senate came close to rejecting Brownback’s plan for abolishing it. And after arts advocates rallied, senators rejected an order from Brownback to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission as a government agency and replace it with a private, nonprofit foundation.

But other changes proposed by the GOP governor didn’t inspire strong opposition, even his plan to end the Kansas Health Policy Authority’s independent status and put it under KDHE. Republicans hold majorities of 32-8 in the Senate and 92-33 in the House.

“The Legislature is inclined to give a new governor a certain amount of leeway in terms of structuring his administration,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat.

The Kansas Constitution allows the governor to issue orders reorganizing executive branch agencies during the first 30 days of each legislative session, and legislators have an additional 60 days to consider them. Rejection by one chamber kills a reorganization order.

One Brownback order will move the state’s Animal Health Department and Conservation Commission into the Department of Agriculture, along with the Department of Commerce’s agriculture marketing program.

Other orders will transfer the Department of Commerce’s tourism division to the Department of Wildlife and Parks and the state Commission on Disability Concerns, from the Department of Commerce to the governor’s office. Also, Kansas Inc., an independent economic development research agency, will be abolished and its duties assumed by the Department of Administration.

The Arts Commission order, designed to save $575,000 annually, was the least popular Brownback proposal. But the governor already has formed the nonprofit foundation, and legislators expect him to veto any state funds for the Arts Commission — accomplishing his goal, despite senators’ action.

The Senate voted 20-19 to reject Brownback’s order on the Parole Board, but opponents of the plan needed 21 votes in the 40-member chamber.

Critics contend the Department of Corrections has an inherent conflict of interest in deciding who gets paroled.

They worry the department will have an incentive to release inmates when prisons get close to capacity, as they are now.

“I still think there is a need for an independent body making those decisions,” Davis said.

But other legislators are skeptical that at-capacity prisons will result in a raft of paroles. House Speaker Mike O’Neal, a Hutchinson Republican who supports the change, notes that the corrections secretary already has some authority to release inmates early when faced with crowding.

O’Neal also contends that a department panel is more likely to consider whether an inmate who’s up for parole has served as much or more time as other ex-inmates who’ve committed the same crime.

The change for the Health Policy Authority is significant because a GOP-controlled Legislature created the agency in 2005 to administer Medicaid and other health programs and to make policy recommendations to lawmakers.

Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius pushed to have the agency within the executive branch, but many Republican insisted on setting up an agency governed by an independent board.

Some Republicans now acknowledge the setup didn’t work as they intended. Conservatives repeatedly chafed when the authority proposed plans to increase state spending on health services.

“The Health Policy Authority began mission creep almost immediately,” O’Neal said. “It really got to the point where it was quite aggravating.”

Comments

mloburgio 3 years, 8 months ago

What ever happened to brownies roadmap for kansas "on a bus rented in alabama." 1.Increase in net personal income. 1 (See footnotes.) 2.Increase in private sector employment. 2 3.Increase in the percentage of 4th graders reading at grade level. 3 4.Increase in the percentage of high school graduates who are college or career ready. 4 5.Decrease in the percentage of Kansas’ children who live in poverty. 5 https://governor.ks.gov/road-map

plainspeaking 3 years, 8 months ago

A bigger - and better - first step would be the elimination of sales tax exemptions. If all sales tax exemptions were eliminated, the projected $500 M deficit would be covered and the current sales tax rate could drop significantly.

Kontum1972 3 years, 8 months ago

KU backer...yeah we got a first hand look at the Republican official...sponser...Representative Peck from SEK......Shooting "them" from helicopters like feral PIGS...this Peck guy is straight out of the Hitler youth movement...i guess if we are not Aryan we are screwed....our founding fathers are rolling over in their graves.

Richard Payton 3 years, 8 months ago

I noticed another Brownback sits as a chairman on the Federal Reserve Bank is that Gov. Brownback's brother?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

plainspeaking is on to something I'd say.

The way to create revenue is to put humans back on payrolls. Cutting taxes has NOT done that job effectively that I recall or can trace.

Cutting tax abatements and all like revenue depletion tools such as that would be helpful to all of us and the government.

Why is it repubs believe corporate welfare is a good thing? Why is it any politician believes corporate welfare is a good thing? Why is it taxpayers believe corporate welfare is a good thing?

Betty Bartholomew 3 years, 8 months ago

"Some Republicans now acknowledge the setup didn't work as they intended. Conservatives repeatedly chafed when the authority proposed plans to increase state spending on health services."

Heaven forbid the state help lookout for the health and well-being of its citizens.

Alyosha 3 years, 8 months ago

The story states that the adminstration "expects [the changes] to reduce spending by $4.7 million annually."

If it's an "expected" savings, shouldn't the headline reflect that, instead of calling the changes "money-saving"?

There's a difference between something that's expected and something that's actually the case.

We won't know if money will actually be saved until time has passed, no?

tunahelper 3 years, 8 months ago

what about changing all the logos of the state agencies? how does that save money? changing all the logos on letterhead, business cards, etc. how does that save money? what a crock.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.