Brownback: Keeping SRS office open with local taxpayers’ money ‘a workable solution’

? ??Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday said local taxpayers footing the bill to keep the Lawrence welfare office open was “a workable solution.”

But Brownback declined to comment on whether the state would pick up the tab down the road.

“I can’t speak to that,” he said.

Brownback said the state still faces tough budget decisions and his administration would continue looking for efficiencies and savings.

“We have to look at all the dimes and nickels,” he said.

Brownback’s administration stunned Lawrence on July 1 when it announced plans to close the Lawrence office of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, along with eight others.

The Lawrence office was by far the largest of those set for closure, serving thousands of people. Brownback and SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. said clients using SRS services could access them on the internet or travel to other SRS offices in nearby cities.

Local advocates said that wasn’t possible because to get many SRS services requires face-to-face meetings, and many clients don’t have transportation.

After a public outcry over the decision, the Lawrence City Commission and Douglas County Commission agreed to pay $450,000 to keep the office open for two years. The payment satisfied SRS’ demand to cut costs and Siedlecki said the agency would make a good faith effort to seek adequate funding in subsequent years to keep the office open.

Brownback said the state needed to be as efficient as possible in order to have revenue to provide services.