Archive for Saturday, March 11, 2017

Opinion: Name your state budget cuts now

March 11, 2017

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Kansas budget cutters: The time has come to get real and very specific. Which expenses can be cut to balance the state budget? What’s your plan? Put out the details so that Kansans can judge the best course of action.

Despite multiple rounds of budget cuts over the last years, some legislators and groups like the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity have continued to make vague, abstract pronouncements that Kansas has a spending problem. They suggest that financial trouble in Kansas can be solved by getting rid of “inefficiencies.”

That kind of talk nurtures a popular stereotype of government, but does it at all ring true in Kansas anymore? If true, those saying such things should have no trouble naming the spending that needs to be eliminated. Surely, with the financial health of Kansas on the line, would-be budget cutters can muster specificity.

In the wake of a new court ruling, what part of school funding can be cut? Saying “put students first” is not an adequate answer, though. How about chopping Medicaid? Doctors, hospitals and nursing homes providing services had their Medicaid reimbursement rates cut 4 percent this year. Can that cut be made deeper? Vast amounts of money have been lifted from the highway fund, causing many road projects to be canceled. Should Kansas spend even less on highway maintenance and bridge repair? State employees have not had a raise in nine years. How about making it 10? Or maybe cutting their health benefits can save money.

Without specifics, claims of an inefficient, overspending state government come up empty and lead nowhere.

When explaining his recent veto of a revenue-raising bill, Gov. Sam Brownback chided lawmakers for not considering more expense cuts, but his own budget does not show the way. His main proposal to reduce spending shorts the required payments into the already precarious public employee retirement fund. That’s like a homeowner skipping mortgage payments. It doesn’t actually eliminate the expense, just piles it onto the obligations in future years.

Kansas faces a festering budget gap between income and expense that now exceeds a billion dollars. Only two approaches can effectively solve the problem: cut expenses — in a real way — or raise revenue. Lawmakers have not done enough of either to cure the structural imbalance in the budget.

Instead, they have resorted to short-term patches that kill Kansas financially — blowing through the reserves, borrowing, putting off bill payments, raiding the highway fund, trying to sell assets. With each of these maneuvers, Kansas has become poorer but without fixing the problem. These misguided efforts have to stop.

If there was ever a time for serious budget cutters to shine, this is it. Put your proposals out on the table and explain them. But if you are only able to talk in generalities, don’t waste everyone’s time. Either offer credible ways to reduce expenses or let the Legislature proceed to roll back the 2012 income tax cuts.

— Duane Goossen formerly served 12 years as Kansas’ budget director.

Comments

Bob Summers 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Duane is a congenital Liberal. This is why he is so blind to economic science. This is why he is so negatively vile when there is no money. He cannot understand people in government are a service. They are a service, like a maid at Motel 6 cleaning his soiled sheets and messy bathroom.

Without specifics, claims of an inefficient, overspending state government come up empty and lead nowhere.

Cut across the board. 10 or 20 or 30%.

These people in their over paid, over benefited, cushy jobs need to go. They are an overpaid service that the working stiff can not afford.

These moochers of tax dollars need to be sloughed off.

Ken Lassman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Duane knows more about the sausage grinding that goes into making the State of Kansas budget than practically anyone else living. He knows about all of the slush funds, all of the accounting tricks, where there is fat and where there is bone and accurately predicted the financial morass that would occur as soon as the legislation was signed into effect. Why? Because he CREATED the state Budgets for years as Secretary of Administration, Division of Budget! He was also Harvard educated and became the president of the National Association of State Budget Officers during his state tenure.

In fact, I can think of nobody more qualified to be our next governor, if we really want to get ourselves out of the bloody mess that the Brownback Administration has put our state into.

And your calling him a "congenital Liberal" puts on that final stamp of approval that I was looking for. If he offends you, he gets a mark of approval from me!

Bob Summers 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Liberals like yourself will say anything, do anything, to continue to take other peoples money.

It's what the Liberal does. Live off other peoples productivity.

Like seagulls at the garbage dump. The Liberal feeds.

Greg Cooper 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Or like you, driving on other people's roads, using their police and fire protection, making use of their thhings is OK, but trying to raise a family make a decent wage, have health care that really cares: those things need to be cut another 30%? Your degree in economics, Summers would not make the cut in a Cracker Jack box.

Brock Masters 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Cutting across the board is an irresponsible way to cut the budget. Consider this analogy, you have a fleet of cars and need to reduce costs so you take one tire off each car in the fleet. Reduced costs, yes, but you crippled your entire fleet.

The same with state agencies, across the board cuts can cripple programs. Some programs operate on very little state general funds so the impact to them can be devastating.

Cuts need to be strategic. For example, cut the state meat inspection program. The Feds will step in and do it.

Cut the department of commerce. Let private business promote its of on their dime.

Cut the HR directors in each department and centralize thos functions.

Cuts are needed because Brownback screwed up the funding, but do it right.

Greg Cooper 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I partially agree with you, Brock, that across the board, Bob Summers silliness, is counterproductive. But, and this is what bothers me, the fact that we even have this conversation, cutting management/upper level is not a cure but a stopgap, which will lead to logjams in the structure of planning and logistics. The plain fact is that we have to have income, and now, to repair the shortsighted Laffer mistakes this state has made. It will be relatively painful to those who don't care about others (Summers, et al) but will at least give the state a means by which it can catch up.

Bob Summers 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Yes. I could care less about people that feed off of others claiming they are needed.

Good heavens. You Liberals and your parasitical behavior is amazing.

Brock Masters 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Problem is they can't raise revenue quickly enough to offset the budget deficit. Brownback has dug such a big hole that raising taxes won't fill it in quick enough.

Bob Summers 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Like I said, the Liberal will say anything to take someone else's money.

fact is that we have to have income

The Liberal even calls their plunder "income".

Thanks for confirming that.

Carol Bowen 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Old news. More currently, contracting and contract employees consume a large portion of the state's budget. The state has gradually increased privatizing government functions.

Carol Bowen 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The number of state employees has already been downsized. I agree with Duane (LTE), Brock and Greg. Budget cuts should be based on sensible priorities rather than preconceived notions. More across-the-board budget cuts would short-sighted, crippling the state.

Greg Cooper 1 month, 1 week ago

Summers, this letter is aimed directly at you. Read it. Understand it. And be a part of the solution rather than the entire problem. I've asked you to justify your idiotic "across the board" suggestion, and you can't justify it. Now is the time. Which cuts can the state afford in reality? You're so smart, tell us how to fix this, without plunging the state further into debt, losing essential services, and protecting those things that we need and have to have. Go ahead, Summers, do it.

Richard Heckler 1 month, 2 weeks ago

=== Gov Sam Brownback Brings Supply Side Economics to Kansas by way of his friend Arthur Laffer Read more: http://business.time.com/2012/08/09/arthur-laffers-anti-stimulus-curve-ball-is-a-foul/#ixzz2OG2JKGYS

=== Cut off corporate subsides for 5 years. Why? They are recklessly distributed to wealthy corporations for such things as moving across the border and such. http://www.jimhightower.com/node/7723#.UkS9vBaTOX0

=== "The state has gradually increased privatizing government functions." Cannot control spending this way......no doubt these are awarded to special interests which subscribe to a Libertarian point of view. This is fiscal irresponsibility.

=== Cut off privatized management of the prison system.

=== Cut off the privatizing of public education!

--- http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/opinion/whats-the-matter-with-kansas-schools.html

=== Rosy Kansas Revenue Numbers Don’t Add Up

--- Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/03/29/4922381/rosy-kansas-revenue-numbers-just.html#storylink=cpy

--- http://www.kansascity.com/2014/05/30/5056283/brownbacks-tax-cuts-now-full-blown.html#storylink=cpy

--- New Study Rips Kansas Tax Cuts http://www.kansascity.com/2014/03/27/4919129/new-study-rips-kansas-tax-cuts.html

=== Do away with KanCare - Bring back federally funded medicaid.

Larry Sturm 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Budget cutters get rid of brownback and all of the right wing conservative legislatures.

Greg Cooper 1 month, 1 week ago

Unleashed from the restraints of Brownkoch and Company, Goosed, who quit because of their crap, is the voice of reason in the state's financial crisis. Ignoring his comments is paramount to ignoring the whole thing. There is no one thing that will fix this mess quickly, but ignoring the income and budget constraints that have to be addressed is stupid and shortsighted.

Sam Crow 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Goossens is a hack for the Kansas democrat party .

He is with the Kansas Center for Economic Growth/Kansas Action for Children, which are liberal groups always encouraging more spending and more taxes. It is noteworthy that the LJW doesn’t include that at the end of his opinion pieces.

In the 10 years while budget director for Sebelius and Parkinson, taxes increased 49%. While spending increased over 60%.

To balance the budgets Goossens cooked the books by counting unpredictable and unreliable sources of revenues, such as one time federal grants and stimulus funds.

In 2009, Kansas issued more than a quarter billion dollars of bonds to pump up KPERS. The Security and Exchange Commission found that Goossens, as Director of Administration, did not fully disclose to investors the dire financial condition of Kansas, and specifically KPERS during the bond sale. The SEC sanctioned the state.

His financial budget history is the reason he left the government bureaucracy.

And the reasons Republicans can only hope the democrats run him for governor, as Lassman proposes.

Ken Lassman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Goosen is a hack for the Kansas Democrats? That must be why he ran as a Republican and won and was a Republican legislator in the House of Representatives from 1983 until 1997, then served the Adminstration of two Republican governors and a Democrat governor to boot. You attack Goosen's taxing and spending policies, but if you must know, he was following the orders of his mostly Republican governors. And he has been spot on in calling Brownback's policies as flim flam from the start, with predicted budget shortfalls rolling out like clockwork. If you want to create a truly sustainable set of financing and spending policies for our state's future, I know of nobody more able to do that than Mr. Goosen. Who do you think has a better skillset: Kobach?????

Sam Crow 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Actually, Goossens was originally elected as a state legislator as a Republican, as you indicate. However, he got mad because of a committee assignment and switched to democrats.

When it became apparent he was about to lose an election, his friend Governor Graves (R) brought him into the bureaucracy, as a political appointee.

He stayed during the administrations of Sibelius (D) and Parkinson (D).

Because of the SEC matter, he left before Brownback was elected, and went to work for the Kansas Health Foundation.

I dont know where you get he worked for two Republican governors.

I don't attack his spending and taxing philosophy. I stated the facts.

Yes, he is a democrat hack working for a liberal group, writing these opinion pieces stealthily.

Ken Lassman 1 month, 1 week ago

Sam,

You're right: he was a Republican AND and Democrat, as was Parkinson, which is why I got mixed up on the Republican governor thing: I forgot Parkinson switched from being a Republican before he became governor. And, yes, there was a protective response by Graves, also a moderate, when Goosen was threatened by the rising ultraconservative wave that later took over the Republican party. Moderate Republicans have more in common with moderate Democrats than with the ultra conservatives, which is why we saw the party switching back in Parkinson's day. Now that the ultraconservatives have laid waste to the state financing system for state government and schools, the Kansas people are sending the moderates back in to clean up the mess.

I'm not saying that the dynamic fiscal policies of the past have ever been sustainable in the way that Kansans deserve, but it's disingenuous to place the sins of previous administrations that Goosen worked for solely on his shoulders since he was the sergeant in the trenches, not the general on top of the hill. What I'm saying is that if he put his mind to it, and was in the position of the governor, he could fashion a legitimate fiscal policy with a system of revenues collection that would be way more equitable, sustainable and scaled to the need of government than most of our previous state administrations, especially those with Brownback at the helm. And that's because he knows how the system worked, how it was broken and how to fix it, potentially better than either fiscal extremes have been able to do in the past.

So you call him a liberal working for liberals; I call him a moderate working for Kansans.

Greg Cooper 1 month, 1 week ago

Sam's comment is indicative of the Regressive bent for standing on labels rather than fact. It doesn't matter to me whether Goosen is Dem or Repub if he addresses, an demands that we address, the real issues. It's time for us as voters to realize that we need to support those of any party who want to do the right thing by the entire state. Relying on an R or A D or an L or an I in describing a person is cowardly and is simply a way to not address one's vote to the real issues.

Carol Bowen 1 month, 1 week ago

Well stated. It doesn't matter what the affiliations are or were. We need leaders who are concerned about Kansas and Kansans. Issues include priorities, revenus, debts, services, safety, water resources, and more. There is no time to fool around with philosophy.

Sam Crow 1 month, 1 week ago

It is fascinating that Greg writes of “Regressive bent for standing on labels”.

This in response to Kens comment where he used the label ultraconservative no less than three times.

Greg you refer to the real issues and the right thing. Conservatives like me, and liberals like you, disagree on what the real issues and right things are.

That is what differentiates the left from the right political philosophies.

Carol states it is no time to fool around with philosophy. Well, then, simply agree with the conservatives.

Back in the early 1770s most people were content with good ole' King George III running the show. Differing political philosophies is what the country was founded on.

Greg Cooper 1 month, 1 week ago

"Greg you refer to the real issues and the right thing. Conservatives like me, and liberals like you, disagree on what the real issues and right things are."

Then, Sam, you didn't get the point I was making, did you? Let me re-state: voters of all political parties need to look at what works, what doesn't, what is necessary and what is not, and support the LEGISLATOR who espouses support for those things. It's not a hard concept to swallow, just difficult to leave party politics out of the equation and come together in finding long-term solutions and building a path to making it happen.

And, Sam, you were right to point out my statement. But I stand by what I said and hope that you and I and the Bobs and the LTE writer can come to an understanding of what's best for the state and its citizens. m Otherwise, we are not going to get out of this hole we are in.

Galyn Yeager 1 month, 1 week ago

The challenge of the article was to find specific items that could be cut from the budget but it turned into of a more of a debate is he a liberal. So, can anyone come up with a suggestion on what should be cut back or eliminated preferably???? As a registered Republican, I would like to see some of the die hard heroes here come up something more than an insult. Prove yourself a smart person and put all of us moderate republicans in awe of your answer. I for one would cut the number of members in the state house of representatives. State employees have been cut, now it is time to do the same to the powerhouse in Topeka. Eliminate 30 or 40 representatives, that would save tons of money.

Carol Bowen 1 month, 1 week ago

Hiring freeze, travel, attorneys, legislature's budget, contracts and contract employees, trim or eliminate political appointee salaries

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