Topeka Legislators on Monday questioned Gov. Sam Brownback's budget director about salaries within the administration and the reasons behind some of Brownback's proposed budget cuts.
Budget Director Steve Anderson defended administrative salaries, and said Brownback, a Republican who was elected in November, faced a short time frame to come up with a proposed budget while facing a nearly $500 million revenue shortfall.
Appearing before the House Appropriations Committee, state Rep. Bill Feuerborn of Garnett, the ranking Democrat, asked why Brownback decided to hire separate people for budget director and secretary of administration. In the previous administration, both positions were held by one person, Duane Goossen, at a salary of $114,199 per year.
Anderson is making $98,000 per year as budget director, and Dennis Taylor is making $114,000 per year as secretary of administration for a combined total of $212,000 per year. The salary figures were provided by the governor's office through a Kansas Open Records Act request.
Anderson said it was better to have two people focused on the separate departments. He praised Goossen, but said, "Goossen was just spread too thin. It was penny wise and pound foolish," to combine the two jobs, he said.
Feuerborn also asked Anderson why Brownback recommended full funding of a program that is supposed to make air fares more competitive in Wichita, including a rollover of unspent funds, while also recommending elimination of the Kansas Arts Commission and funding of Kansas Public Broadcasting.
The "Fair Fares" program was presented by its supporters as a way to help to western Kansas, Anderson said. "Everything will be scrutinized in detail in the next budget cycle," he said.
Combined with the short time frame to propose a budget when the legislative session started in January, Anderson said there was a lack of data on the efficiency of state spending when he came on the job.
Anderson said he has directed his staff to put in place a management information system that will measure costs per unit of output throughout state government.
"Good data makes good decisions," he said.
State Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, praised Anderson's efforts, saying, "I always thought of government efficiency as an oxymoron; maybe we have the potential to make it something credible."