Archive for Friday, April 15, 2011

Former legislator who established KBA hopes controversy doesn’t detract from agency’s mission

April 15, 2011


— Former state representative Kenny Wilk, who was the co-author of legislation that established the Kansas Bioscience Authority, said he hopes the controversy surrounding the agency doesn’t damage its mission.

On Friday, Tom Thornton, the KBA’s president and chief executive officer, resigned. The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office is reportedly investigating the agency, a state senator continues to raise questions about spending, and Gov. Sam Brownback has publicly criticized leaders at the KBA.

“It is essential we get to the bottom of the recently raised issues that prompted a criminal investigation,” Brownback said.

Wilk, a Republican who represented Lansing for 16 years in the House before he retired from the Legislature in 2009, said he didn’t want to comment on Thornton’s departure, but added that publicly raised doubts about the KBA “is disappointing to me.”

KBA board chairman John Carlin, a Democratic former governor of Kansas, has defended the agency. He said he doesn’t know what the Johnson County investigation is focused on. The district attorney’s office has refused to comment.

In 2004, Wilk, along with former state senator Nick Jordan, a Republican from Shawnee who is now Brownback’s secretary of revenue, pushed through the Legislature the Kansas Economic Growth Act. It won bipartisan support and allocated $581 million over 10 years to bioscience initiatives.

Wilk said the objective of the legislation was to create a new segment of the Kansas economy.

“We are certainly on track, but we are not done,” he said. “I would hate to see it derailed.”

Wilk, who is now a consultant and led Brownback’s transition team, said he has no interest in Thornton’s former job.

But, he said, he wants to make sure the KBA mission continues. He said he was encouraged that Brownback and legislative leaders still maintain they support the KBA’s goal.


Bob_Keeshan 7 years ago

How about an interview with the other person responsible for KBA, former State Senator Nick Jordan?

Oh wait, he's now Brownback's Secretary of Revenue. He'll deny even knowing what KBA stands for.

gorilla 7 years ago

Has the right question been asked? The pay and perk issue shouldn't be whether they are too high or too generous; the issue should be how pay and perks compare with the bioscience or biotech staff in other states or industry. Is the Kansas pay and benefit structure out of line with, or comparable to those of other states with staffs of similar size.

Bioscience is a go-go field, many or all states are trying to get in on it, and they are probably very generous to attract talent. Competition for talent is keen, and the people who can fill such positions are in high paying scientific fields, i.e., it's a seekers market.

Has anybody in officialdom, especially the complainers, asked looked for a wage comparability review?

verity 7 years ago

"He said he doesn’t know what the Johnson County investigation is focused on. The district attorney’s office has refused to comment."

Sounds like they're fishing or trying to intimidate---Wagle has always been a real piece of work.

Screw this up and lose more jobs for Kansas.

BigPrune 7 years ago

Have they really provided ANY jobs in Kansas? They take credit where credit is NOT due, namely that Bio Defense Facility in Manhattan - the KBA hired the limos and booked some hotels - big woof.

DeMontfort 7 years ago

Well, I know at least one person whose job depends on money from KBA. Does that count?

lastcall4oh 7 years ago

So Gov. Brownback and Senator Wagle want an investigation into this? How about an investigation into the ever rising cost of the state house renovation? How much is Quarra Stone making off of this? And the general contractor? How about the State Architect?

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