Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback said the state is in "full compliance" with providing services to those with disabilities, and criticized a federal investigation into the issue.
Brownback, a Republican, said the dispute arises out of a waiting list for services that started under former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, who is the current secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which forwarded the waiting list complaints to the U.S. Justice Department.
"Effectively, Secretary Sebelius decided upon joining the Obama Administration that Governor Sebelius and her policies were in violation of federal law," Brownback said in a statement.
Federal officials have had a different take on the issue.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas Barry Grissom said HHS tried to negotiate an arrangement with Brownback to avoid litigation. "Unfortunately those negotiations were not successful," Grissom said.
The dispute is over a growing waiting list for home and community-based services for those with physical disabilities.
The waiting list now has about 3,500 Kansans, and it takes upwards of three years for anyone on the list to receive services.
Advocates for those with physical disabilities have been filing Olmstead complaints, which was a U.S. Supreme Court decision that says states must provide services to people with disabilities to enable them to be more integrated in the community.
Brownback, who took office as governor in January 2011, said much of the waiting list problem started in late 2008 when Sebelius was governor and continued when she went to HHS and Mark Parkinson became governor.
Democratic legislators have noted that the waiting lists grew as state revenues took a historic nosedive in 2008-2010. But now that the state has a projected surplus of more than $600 million, an increase in funding for the programs could reduce or eliminate the waiting lists, they say.
But Brownback said his administration has taken steps to address the waiting lists, including privatization of the Medicaid program.
In a letter he wrote to Leon Rodriguez, director of the Office of Civil Rights in HHS, Brownback said the federal government was trying to force Kansas "to spend money it does not have."