Archive for Wednesday, August 17, 2011

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

August 17, 2011


— 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.


jhawkinsf 6 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

somebodynew 6 years, 5 months ago

Get ready Commissioners. You didn't get a signed deal (probably wouldn't have mattered if you did with this group) so as long as they are in power you are going to have to pony up the money since you did it once. I would hope you are having some real 'heart-to-heart' talks with that landlord since you all have done him plenty of favors over the years.

lionheart72661 6 years, 5 months ago

Yep, just like the government! Local taxpayers bailing out the state. Here's an idea! Why don't you rich city leaders dig down deep in your grubby pockets and pay for it yourself. Here is what I think is funny. I was at a local c-store and saw a guy pay for fountain drinks with a vision card then get into a brand new car! Another time i saw a woman buying candy, pulled out 2 wads of money. as I watched her go through the wads of $100 bills (that's right one hundred dollar bills) I thought she was looking for a smaller bill! NOPE! She was looking for her vision card and paid with that. OUR taxpayer money. Since we as taxpayers are paying to keep the office open I think they need to go through their files and get some of these deadbeats off welfare! Oh, I could go on with more stories. here is a sad one for you. I know a woman that was getting $345 a month in food stamps due to her disability and SRS sent her some forms about her income which she filled out truthfully but dropped to $125 a month because the question asked was this : "Did you income increase by more than $1,145 a month"? The answer was no. yes she started receiving child support but it didn't come close to that. She no longer gets child support and her daughter has been unsuccessful at finding a job. So tell me this ALL you big wigs out there playing with our money, How in the world can even 1 person survive on $125 worth of food a month when you have deadbeats buying candy and soda with their vision cards and driving new cars? The SRS system sucks and THEY know it!

Deb Engstrom 6 years, 5 months ago

There are both cash and food assistance on a vision card. You can't buy candy and soda with the food assistance but you certainly can with the cash -- just like using a credit card. Also, those "wads of $100" bills could have been all of her money for a month and probably going to pay her rent and utilities. There's always another side.

lmb 6 years, 5 months ago

Thank you, Deb. You're right--many people only use cash.

lionheart-- You ask how can she survive on $125 when other people don't? They don't have anything to do with each other. The answer is, she can make smart decisions about how she spends her $125 and ignore the people that make bad decisions. I don't get assistance but I certainly spend less than $200 a month for 2 people. A bag of dried beans or rice each cost less than $1. Pasta is often on sale for $1. Properly portioning a $3 box of cereal and gallon of milk will make it last 2 weeks. A loaf of bread, peanut butter, and jelly costs $5 and provides lunch for 10 days.

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

Actually any food that is not ready to eat can be bought with food assistance. So a fountain drink would not be covered, but bottled soda wouldt. And so what if they did buy junk food? Poor folks aren't allowed to have treats? I doubt Reagan's welfare queen cited above even happened. He/she is just repeating the myth that everyone on welfare is living high on the hog. Of course if you're governor and still drawing farm subsidies and using that money however you want, that's okay. Wouldn't Brownie also be drawing his federal congressional retirement at this point? So he's triple dipping to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. But god forbid a poor person eats a candy bar. "Judge not..."

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

I think the quality of food that people buy on government assistance programs is a valid issue to consider.

Don't we want those folks to have a healthy diet?

Obesity is dramatically on the rise, especially in population like that one, and is a serious health concern.

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

So change the rules. In the meantime, they have just as much right to eat junk food as anyone else. If you want to combat obesity in all populations, put a sin tax on high fructose corn syrup and carbonated beverages. People on assistance, like all humans like sweet and salty flavors. They are just as susceptible to the blandishments of the advertising industry as everyone else. Why do we think we have a right to tell poor people what to eat, but farm subsidy recipients, for example, get a pass? They can pretty much do whatever they like with their free government money. Oh, if they get corn subsidies, they have to put some corn in the ground. Any money left over after planting, is theirs to do with what they like. The main reasons food assistance programs even exist is to shore up agriculture. The fact that it helps with hunger is a nice side effect.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

I would change the rules.

I would also eliminate those sorts of subsidies, so that wouldn't be an issue.

George_Braziller 6 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately you can. I've been working as an attendant for a 73 year old woman who receives $16.00 a month on her Vision card.

I take her shopping every month and she uses all of it to buy a case of Coke, peanut butter cheese crackers, and Milk Duds. It always runs through as "food." That's her version of "food" and pretty much all she eats. But at least she's eating something.

I cook for her twice a week and leave left-overs in the fridge but usually end up throwing them away. Coke, peanut butter crackers, and Milk Duds is what she lives on by choice.

And no it's not my cooking. One time she wanted pizza so we went out to get one. A week later half of a pizza was still in the fridge. It was "too much work" to get it out.

Munch, munch, munch on peanut butter cheese crackers.

Ted Kihm 6 years, 5 months ago

Thanks Deb, excellent response! People see what they want to see. Glad to see the encouragement to open our perception.

lionheart72661 6 years, 5 months ago

jhawkinsf I agree, but you can tell by the persons name they don't like Christians anyway!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 5 months ago

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

What the hell is the man talking about? All tax dollar sources are from local taxpayers including the ones he recklessly turns away or recklessly spends on " new administrators".

monkeywrench1969 6 years, 5 months ago

The locals want to keep it open so maybe they should foot the bill. I see it as a solution otherwise it gets closed. personally I think they should close the wet homelss shelter. We had fewer people hanging out in front of Salvation Army for a free meal when it was the only place in town and they did not allow people who were drinking in to stay the night..

jhawkinsf 6 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps their objection is with posts that sound as if they are from impudent adolescents.

moxibustion 6 years, 5 months ago

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

Let's look at the ones you are taking from taxpayers to fund your cronies' salaries all the while reducing the services for people who need them.

chootspa 6 years, 5 months ago

Let's also look at the federal dimes and nickels you turn away in the process.

Brian Hall 6 years, 5 months ago

The state is required to pay for it. If there was no money for USD 497 and we had to consolidate with Topeka, Johnson County and other districts would we be expected to foot the bill if we wanted to keep USD 497? If Lawrence taxpayers pay for this one thing, then this administration may attempt to close other offices that the state is required to pay for. This sets a bad precedent and I think sets Lawrence up further for more "budget cutting" because if we don't like it we'll just pay for it ourselves.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

How on earth can you blame the local, rather than the state, government for this?

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Johnson County is more affluent than Douglas County, as far as I know.

The blame for this lies squarely on the state in my view.

It's their responsibility to fund these services, and closing the office wasn't even saving any money at the state level, given the new administrative positions.

Trying to pass state responsibilities to local levels is reprehensible, and I'm not even sure that's what they intended - it's entirely possible they don't care at all whether the local office stays open or not.

ENGWOOD 6 years, 5 months ago

"rent is too damn high" Right, Unless you are the landlord and property taxes are $30,000.00, Utilities are $20,000.00, Maintenance is $5000.00 per year and on and on and everyone wants a handout. We get a minimum of 10 calls a week from organizations seeking donations. AND YOU THINK RENT IS TO DAMN HIGH!!!

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

It does seem high.

But the time to negotiate that is before you sign the lease, not while you're in the middle of one.

Phillbert 6 years, 5 months ago

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

....or to hire a new bunch of new top-level SRS administrators, mostly from Florida, that cost more than the savings shutting down the Lawrence office would bring.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago


He strips the office of funding, spending that money on new administrative positions instead, including a PR spokesperson for SRS, a position that they've never had before to my knowledge.

Then, our local community steps up to the plate and funds it, even though that funding would more appropriately come from the state, since the office is a state office.

And, your conclusion is that the governor is praiseworthy, and the local community deserves criticism.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

What sort of compromises should they make? Eating only 5 days a week?

monkeywrench1969 6 years, 5 months ago

This is an unusual observation I have found multiple people in low income areas are fairly obese where in other countries the low income and under priviledged are skin and bones. I recall several images on the news of even low and middle income in Russia and eastern Europe being a bit skinny as well. What constitutes enough.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

This obesity stems not so much from eating too much, but from eating too much of the only foods they can afford-- highly processed foods that are high on calories, but low on nutrition.

Chris Scafe 6 years, 5 months ago

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

With the millions he's turned away, I'd say he is penny wise and pound foolish.

You've done a heckuva job, Brownie!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"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."

If anything is clear at this point in this administration, "good-faith efforts" are few and far between.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

And, of course, the funding was there for the office, but they chose to spend it on new administrative positions instead.

Lisa Rasor 6 years, 5 months ago

I think Brownback is royally ticked off. There he was, patting himself on the back, thinking that he'd successfully punished Lawrence and Douglas County for not supporting him in the election, and then Lawrence and Douglas County once again outsmart him--and he can't do anything about it. You sure picked the wrong community to mess with, Sammy, dintcha?

tbaker 6 years, 5 months ago

I really like the idea of local tax dollars funding the operation of the SRS office. The more local government is, the more responsive it is to the needs of the people it serves. If the people of Lawrence / Douglas County want to pay for this kind of thing, then put it on the ballot. Leave it to the voters in a local election to decide what to do in their own town and county.

thebigspoon 6 years, 5 months ago

Great thinking, tb! By your reasoning, I can see a multitude of things that should be taken away from the state's funding coffers: streets/roads (they're used by locals, after all) , schools (definitely don't serve anyone outside their boundaries!), and while we're at it, let's return and refuse any federal funds because they aren't produced by our in-state citizens.

Are you the original vacuum or did you just become one aut of practice?

bklonnie 6 years, 5 months ago

Everyone get ready for Brownback/Siedlecki to spend even more money that "we don't have" on the implementation of One Church, One Child in Kansas. It's not about balancing the budget; it's about these fools doing away with what they don't agree with, and spending the money "we don't have" on things to support their theocratic goals.

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