Topeka Senate leaders on Friday praised the Kansas Bioscience Authority even though some members of a Senate committee have questioned salaries and expenses at the agency.
“They are one of our bright lights,” Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said of the KBA.
Senate Vice President John Vratil, R-Leawood, and Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg, made similar comments.
But recently several members of the Senate Commerce Committee have expressed displeasure with the $250,000-per-year salary and $100,000 bonus paid to KBA Chief Executive Officer Tom Thornton.
Twelve of the agency’s 21 employees have salaries of more than $100,000.
“They’re very exorbitant for Kansas salaries,” said Commerce Chair Susan Wagle, R-Wichita.
Wagle has held one hearing on KBA finances and plans another one for Friday.
The KBA’s main mission is to lure bioscience companies and research to Kansas. It led the effort to bring the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to the state.
Vratil said he was satisfied with the KBA leadership and salaries.
“You get what you pay for. If you want to hire cheap labor to run the Bioscience Authority, you’re going to get a cheap product,” he said.
Emler said that often legislators say government should be run more like a business. That’s what is happening with the Bioscience Authority.
“The Bioscience Authority has done a tremendous job bringing in NBAF and animal health initiatives,” he said.