Archive for Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Democrats argue Brownback attempting to control, influence state government agencies

May 11, 2011


— Democrats are complaining that Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, is trying to take control of various aspects of state government that have been relatively independent of political pressure.

They point to administrative moves, statements of intention and defiance of the Legislature.

“There’s definitely an effort by the governor to centralize authority within his office,” said House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence.

Brownback and his staff say his actions have been aimed at reducing state spending and making government run more efficiently.

Earlier this session, Brownback issued an executive order consolidating all hiring and human resource functions in the Kansas Department of Administration, which is headed by a Cabinet secretary appointed by Brownback.

Democrats say the new system is a way to ensure Brownback has control over who gets state jobs.

In announcing that decision, Brownback stated, “The state of Kansas needs to establish and increase efficiency, uniformity and fairness in employment policies, procedures and practices within the Executive Branch of state government. Streamlining the administration’s human resources to the Department of Administration will ensure employees are treated equally.”

Other examples, cited by Brownback’s critics, include:

  • Brownback’s Kansas Secretary of Labor Karin Brownlee’s effort to make all employees in the agency unclassified. Brownlee said she wants to improve the agency through better management and a merit-based employee system. A state employee group said the proposal was an attack on worker protections. Democrats have also said that Brownlee has issued an edict requiring agency employees working at the call center to request permission before they can go to the bathroom. Matthew Manda, a Labor Department spokesman, said that allegation is not correct. Employees are supposed to tell their supervisor when they are taking a break, he said. This allows the department to do a better job in fielding calls, he said.
  • Brownback’s insertion into the Kansas Bioscience Authority debate. Some legislators have raised questions about KBA finances, and the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office has said it has opened an investigation in the KBA, although it has declined to say what it is looking into. Brownback has been vocal in demanding an independent audit of the agency and review of records. Democrats say Brownback is trying to take control of the KBA, an allegation that Brownback denies.
  • Brownback’s order to fold the Kansas Health Policy Authority into the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which will remove the board that oversees KHPA. Brownback said the move will save administrative expenses and “unifies the expertise in KHPA with the accountability of KDHE as we implement major reforms to our Medicaid delivery model.”
  • Brownback’s layoffs disclosed Tuesday at the Kansas Arts Commission despite a vote by the Senate to keep the commission going and agreements by legislators to fund it. Brownback has said elimination of the agency is a cost-cutting move.


Crazy_Larry 7 years ago

I think once the new state logo is fully implemented, everyone will come together and sing Kumbaya! July 1, state workers will waste tax dollars by disposing of all business cards, envelopes etc. with the old logo. We really, really needed a new state logo! My ears are still ringing from the cries of the Kansans, "WE WANT A NEW BRAND!"

Crazy_Larry 7 years ago

After wasting said tax dollars, state workers will receive a 5% pay cut.

woodscolt 7 years ago

dictator in chief. smellyback will have kansas a third world state or die trying.

verity 7 years ago

"Democrats argue Brownback attempting to control, influence state government agencies"


Jan Rolls 7 years ago

Sure he's trying to take over everything why else would he hire a jerk like dennis taylor. When taylor was with the dept of human resources he got rid of every democrat he could and then filled the positions by first looking at voter registraion records to see if they were republicans. He wasn't even subtle about it as is the case now.

newmath 7 years ago

so it matt saying they don't have to tell their supervisors when they have to go the bathroom? Is going to the bathroom considered a "break"

Rational_Kansan 7 years ago

Moderate Republicans and Democrats must band together and work for a candidate who will truly represent Kansans and our values of fair, moderate, open government. This Governor does not represent us. Instead, he works for an extreme right-wing, secretive ideology of power grabbing by the monied interests of the state. He cloaks it in "family values," but then seeks to defund education, the arts, services to the disabled and the poor, middle class and working people. We must start now.

kugrad 7 years ago

Well Said Sir or Madame. Hear, Hear!

verity 7 years ago


It worked in the past and we must make it work again.

sciencegeek 7 years ago

Remember all the problems with not getting an answer on the unemployment line? Know why they have to schedule bathroom breaks now?--because they've laid of so many that the ones left don't have time to take bathroom breaks.

He who doesn't believe in unemployment payments (the Koch brothers and their buddy Sam) can deny them indirectly by making them impossible to get. Make the few left so miserable that they leave. Diabolical, this bunch.

How about making that policy public? Or will that be under threat of dismissal, too?

pusscanthropus 7 years ago

@stund--It's obvious you never made it through English 101. Oh yeah...who needs education?

question4u 7 years ago

Centralized power is always such a good thing for governments. Maybe Brownback will make the trains run on time.

cato_the_elder 7 years ago

Kathleen Sebelius ran the KDHE lock, stock, and barrel through her puppet, Rod Bremby.

I suppose all of you leftist hypocrites didn't know that.

The fact is that you didn't care as long as the KDHE represented the interests of radical environmentalists.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

In your book, any concern for the environment, especially if it affects corporate profits in any way, is "radical."

cato_the_elder 7 years ago

Another non-response from Bozo. My point was that Sebelius, not Bremby, ran the agency, and that those who supported that but now complain about Brownback are rank hypocrites.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years ago

I didn't realize the only thing KDHE did was issue permits for a coal plant in Western Kansas. Interesting news.

cato_the_elder 7 years ago

Also a non-response. Based on your prior posts there are obviously many things you don't realize, including how to construct a logical argument.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years ago

Sebelius controlled KDHE "lock, stock, and barrel" based on your presumption she influenced a single decision. That would indicate you believe that single decision was "lock, stock, and barrel" of what KDHE does.

It isn't, by the way. You don't care because you wear the thickest blinders ever developed. You should change your name to Budweiser_the_Clydesdale.

cato_the_elder 7 years ago

If you think that all Sebelius did with KDHE was "influence a single decision," then you don't need blinders - you're already blind.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years ago

Cite more examples, please. Clippity clop, clippity clop goes Budweiser_the_Clydesdale.

jafs 7 years ago

KDHE, as the Department of Health and the Environment in KS, is supposed to protect those.

Bremby's decision is very much in line with those responsibilities.

newmedia 7 years ago

Tax, spend, and complain. Tax, spend, and complain. I guess it gives some people a reason to get up in the morning and feel they have made a difference.

Mixolydian 7 years ago

State agencies are, and always have been, under the control of the Governor, whatever party. Agencies are executive branch. Of course he's trying to control them, it's called doing his job. The legislature affects agencies by the agency's enabling statutes and funding and the courts effect agencies by ruling on the legalities of their actions.

It's Government 101.

This is nothing but minority party sniping and banking on a populace who doesn't understand our constitutional system of governance.

Ken Lassman 7 years ago

It is much more than partisan bickering, Mix. Despite what some whiners have reported in LJWorld comments, many state agencies have well trained, hard working leadership that have created efficient, effectivedepartments and agencies who have well defined missions and a relationship with the executive branch that in the past has given them the respect and autonomy to use their expertise to do things right. This is not to say that the executive branch has not had input or control in the past; it has been a dynamic but healthy balance between executive directives, legislative mandates, federal and state policies and citizen input.

It seems to me that Brownback's approach has thrown much of this into a tizzy. Agency leaders are being replaced with folks from the outside and their primary actions have been dominated by consolidating and centralizing control away from those agencies and to place it under the control of Brownback's minions. There is a superficial efficiency to centralization, but there is a great loss of information that comes with it. This then becomes a recipe for bad decisionmaking; if you don't listen to the folks in the trenches, then you miss the opportunities to improve your services when they arise. The resulting disaster then becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and an excuse to further dismantle the state service that has been sabotaged by the restructuring.

Methinks that it will take a long, long time for Kansas to recover from the Brownback virus.

jafs 7 years ago


So when the legislature continues to fund the Arts Commission, and Brownback fires the employees, what's supposed to happen?

Ken Lassman 7 years ago

The executive branch throws the legislative branch out the window, that's what IS happening. It is no longer necessary.

Will the Arts staff sue? On what grounds? Not spending allocated monies?

Perhaps Brownback violated HR protocol with the 30 day layoff notice, but I suspect his lawyers checked it over before he pulled the plug.

Maybe the Arts grantees across the state can sue the state for breach of contract? Don't know enough about what the state is accountable for to answer that. Chances are the state would just give them the money they owe them, tell them to administer it themselves to make them go away. After the new fiscal year, all grants are probably up, so end of problem.

booyalab 7 years ago

The Dems version of freedom is the freedom for government agencies to waste taxpayer money however they want.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years ago

I challenge you to identify waste in the Kansas Arts Commission. Isn't it odd that the gentleman from Topeka hired by Il Marrone to "privatize" the Kansas Arts Commission couldn't do the same in Topeka?

The so-called "private" arts council in Topeka is reliant upon funding from the Kansas Arts Commission to survive. Yet Il Marrone insists his hand-picked choice to lead the new "private" statewide Arts Commission will be successful in replicating what was done in Topeka.

Effectively, Il Marrone isn't just killing off the Kansas Arts Commission, he is killing off the Topeka arts council and who knows how many other local organizations at the same time. Eccellente!

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