Archive for Sunday, September 3, 2017

Kobach outlines plan to downsize state government through attrition

In this Wednesday, May 17, 2017 photo, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach talks with a reporter in his office in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

In this Wednesday, May 17, 2017 photo, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach talks with a reporter in his office in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

September 3, 2017


— Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has outlined a plan to dramatically reduce the size of government through attrition by not replacing baby-boom generation workers who retire, an idea that his critics say could endanger critical services for children and the elderly.

In an article written for Breitbart News and published on its website Aug. 24, Kobach, who is also a leading candidate for governor in the 2018 election, said the mass retirement of baby boomers presents a unique opportunity to downsize government.

"The size of government can be dramatically reduced simply by making the decision not to fill every vacancy," Kobach wrote in the article. "And it doesn’t take an act of Congress to do it. All it takes is political will in the executive branch not to fill vacancies. The only exceptions should be law enforcement agencies and the military."

Kobach is a frequent contributor to Breitbart, a website that one of its leaders, and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has referred to as a platform for the so-called "alt-right," an offshoot of conservatism that is often characterized as a white nationalist movement.

In the article, Kobach does not specifically say he would adopt such an attrition plan if he were elected governor. But he does say he used attrition to reduce the size of the secretary of state's office.

"Shortly after I became Kansas Secretary of State in 2011, I saw baby boomer retirements occurring in my own agency," he wrote. "Realizing this opportunity, I directed my deputies to reassign the duties of retiring employees to those who remained. Wherever possible, the open positions were not to be filled. We left approximately (one-third) of the vacancies unfilled."

Applying that policy to the rest of state government, however, raises obvious concerns, especially for agencies that provide more critical services to the public than the secretary of state's office.

Robert Choromanski, head of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, a union that represents many state workers, said such a policy on a statewide level would have far-reaching consequences.

"I think it’s a terrible idea because Gov. Brownback has already downsized the state workforce through attrition, voluntary buyouts of state employees and other ways to basically reduce our workforce by about 5,000 employees throughout his term," he said during a telephone interview.

"Basically it’s a big brain drain," he said. "We’re losing a lot of veteran and qualified people who have the expertise to run the state government. While I understand people will be retiring and moving on with their lives, we still need to fill those positions because there are a lot of valuable and very important programs that still need state employees to run them."

If such a policy were adopted statewide, the biggest impact would be felt at the state's Regents institutions because they make up the largest single group of state employees.

In recent years, both the Board of Regents, which governs higher education in the state, and the Kansas State Department of Education, which governs K-12 education, have established policy goals of increasing the college attainment rate in Kansas in order to meet the workforce demands of business and industry in the coming years.

Achieving that goal would almost certainly require increasing faculty and staff levels at state colleges and universities, not cutting them.

Kobach, however, said he does not think an attrition program would seriously affect higher education.

"As a former full-time faculty member at a law school, I am familiar with the unnecessary spending that can be trimmed from higher education," Kobach said in an email, referring to his previous career as a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

"Although the number of professors is usually based on the projected number of students in an academic institution, professors usually make up only a minority of employees at a university," he said. "The number of support staff is often much greater than necessary and can be significantly reduced to save taxpayers money. The cost of higher education has been rising at approximately double the rate of inflation. Those costs must be brought under control."

Outside of higher education, though, Choromanski said there are a number of state agencies and programs that are already suffering from critical staff shortages. Among those, he said, is the Department for Children and Families, whose employees respond to reports of abuse and neglect against children and the elderly, and who oversee children in the state's foster care system.

"That's very critical because they have tons of backlog at DCF," he said. "They are just constantly overwhelmed with tons of cases. And Kansas has one of the highest rates of children being placed in foster care. That just puts a lot of burden and work on social workers."

Kobach, however, insisted that there is room in Kansas to reduce the government workforce.

"Kansas ranks third highest among the states in the number of state and local government employees per capita," he said in an email. "Kansas is 32 (percent) above the national average. These statistics make clear that there is ample room to shrink the number of government employees."

An aide to Kobach said those numbers come from a Kansas Policy Institute report published in March showing Kansas had 670.9 state and local government employees per 10,000 residents, more than any other state except Alaska and Wyoming.

However, according to KPI's analysis, that was largely due to high employment in local government, which includes cities, counties, townships, school districts and a host of other kinds of taxing jurisdictions. Looking only at state government employment, Kansas ranked 17th from the top, with 172.5 employees per 10,000 residents.

Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward, of Wichita, a Democratic candidate for governor, said cuts in the state workforce have already had a significant impact in Kansas.

"You can make Draconian cuts to government but we are seeing the results of that in the staffing crisis at our largest prison," he said in an email. "We won't have good schools, roads, or police protection and that's not the way to make government more efficient. This is more of the Brownback/Colyer experiment."

Kobach said he would exempt law enforcement and military services like the National Guard from an attrition policy.


Richard Quinlan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Crawl back in your hole Kobach , weve had enough crazy the last 8 years.

Michael Kort 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Not exactly an original thought !

Isn't that the 8 year history of Sam the Scam Brownback ?.....................and Krissy K believes that We Need More Of That B.S. ?

Is there anybody on this site who believes that Trump has surrounded himself with human beings ?.........or that Kobach will last any longer than the rest of Trumps Circus of so called movers and shakers of society ?

I mean bigotry has been around since before the Old Testament was written and scape goats were being sacrificed at the alters of this world long before North America was ever discovered .

MerriAnnie Smith 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Sam Brownback, Episode Two

Anybody who falls for it is beyond help

Phillip Chappuie 9 months, 3 weeks ago

In all fairness, is Breibart giving all the other candidates space for a column? Or is it only a platform for wing nuts? I saw Kris's interview the other day on MSNBC. He kind of got his lunch eaten and sounded really bad. Lot's of "uh's and duh's" with no real answers. The attrition we really need in Topeka is him heading out of town east to his improperly zoned country hideaway.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine, so media doesn't have to give equal time to all candidates. We need to bring back the Fairness Doctrine and get rid of Citizens United. The only candidates who will win now are the ones with the most money and the most skill at manipulating the media.

Even Trump who says he hates the media used the media to get elected. He knew how to get their attention, even if it was for something bad. Then he could turn it around and say the media was picking on him, which his followers repeated, and many who were on the fence began to think so too. Studies have shown his name appeared far more than Clinton or any of the Republican candidates. His followers started believing the media really was picking on him, but they really got him elected by putting his name out there, and making him seem like a martyr. Want to make Trump really angry? The media should stop following him around like a bunch of whipped puppies.

Trump will pretend to be outraged by comedians who make fun of him, but if they started ignoring him all together, he would be mad. A dare them to try it. We would see an angry Trump. He's like students we would get once in awhile who had such a need for some kind attention, any kind of attention, that they would misbehave just to get it.

And look. Kobach is doing the same thing. Two articles about him already. Sure, negative things. But his name is in the news. What about the other candidates?

Richard Heckler 9 months, 3 weeks ago

What Koabch is doing is working for ALEC and their profiteers who Kobach will sell to .... yes sell off state services to private profiteers with tax dollars still in tact thus a GUARANTEED PROFIT system. And services will go to hell and the bill will go up. Big salaries and increased cost will inundate we taxpayers.

He will not be downsizing. This downsizing word is being used very loosely. The budget will not be downsized instead budget dollars will flow into private bank accounts. Mr Kobach is playing with fraud.

This is the man messing wth voter rights as he replaces voter rights with the voter purging. BEWARE. Check your status frequently!

BTW what is the current governor doing for his pay?

This ALEC party politicians are always bitching about taxes yet ALEC politicians do everything possible to say on tax dollar payrolls and their profiteer bank rollers are still funding their campaigns with DARK MONEY and stealing our tax dollars for their personal gain.

Taxpayers best give themselves a chance for economic rehabilitation by not voting phoney republicans into office.

Renee Holl 9 months, 3 weeks ago

We simply must NOT allow this dictatorial, uninformed man to remain in a position of authority and he most certainly should NOT be elected to governor. Please, people, use your heads and do everything you can to oppose ALEC and their "chosen" from gaining power. Our existence as Kansans with common sense depends on it.

MerriAnnie Smith 9 months, 3 weeks ago

"downsize government through attrition"

He's using all the catchphrases to fool his voters and it'll work for them

But for people who want to see their state grow and regain its reputation, and who don't fall for Trump/Kobach lies... those catchphrases stand out like bold faced lies.

Brett McCabe 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Why do Republicans hate their government? It's kind of a weirdness with them. I like roads and bridges and consumer protections and many, many other services provided by my government. Why so much anger?

Kevin Millikan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

right?! course, maybe clean water, clean air, knowing what ingredients we are buying is against the gop doctrine...

Richard Heckler 9 months, 3 weeks ago

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=== See how the extremists pick their candidates in our survey comparison


Kathy Dvorske 9 months, 3 weeks ago

At the 2018 election Kansans will have the opportunity to get rid of this guy and all the narrowed minded like him. Let's clean house and save this state.

Kevin Millikan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

So why are state workers considered the bad guy? I am not one, but was one for the State of Alaska. I can tell you all the services we provided, but you already know that. What I don't understand is why people like this make the state workers the enemy.. they provide a service for the people of Kansas, they do it all the while by being told they are nothing but slacking off the state and the people of Kansas. They are made to feel like they shouldn't be even working for the state, and should be looking for work in the private sector. They are looked upon as a slug, a blood-sucking animal living off of the taxes of others. I know Kansas state workers, they are honest, caring, giving.. that's why they seek those jobs, not because they are gonna get rich, but because they get to help others. People like KK will be replaced, make your voices heard next year.

stepping off my box

Richard Heckler 9 months, 3 weeks ago

State workers will be the victims of privatization as they were when Gov Brownback took office. People get hired without the skills necessary to to make things work. Lower wages provide more cover for the 1% tax breaks.

It's all about turning state tax dollars over to private bank accounts aka Koch brothers and their associates. It's that simple.

Conservatives have been filling up the taxpayers with small government talk which has not happened and will not happen. Privatization will be a tax increase with tax dollars going to large salaries, golden parachutes, more to political campaigns that which increase our cost of living.

Lower wages keep economic growth stagnant or less. Fewer people on the job is not good for business.

Purging voters keeps the bad boys and girls in office.

Richard Heckler 9 months, 3 weeks ago

ALEC Libertarians are quite conservative are also keeping America focused on immigrants voting illegally.

Voter ID projects are truly voter suppression tactics.

HOWEVER there are not enough illegal immigrants registered to vote much less participate in the voting process.

Therefore democrats and moderate republicans are the real targets of this endeavor because these two factions can impact an election.

Yes these two factions can be purged just long enough to provide Libertarian and/or fundamentalist candidates very important seats in our national, state and local governing bodies.

Libertarians and fundamentalists have joined together to defeat the majority of american moderate voters with a minority of voters.

Between purging voters and too many voters staying home allows the minority to control the majority.

In addition officials such as Kobach send out confusing information leaving some voters believing they cannot vote anymore.

This matter of purging those who have not voted in a while as a basis for not allowing citizens to vote must be against the law.

Here again this can keep voters from voting just long enough for radical libertarians and radical fundamentalists

Carol Bowen 9 months, 2 weeks ago

So, Koback downsized his staff through attrition. His lawsuits have been contracted out because there's not enough staff in-house. If you add up the in-house salaries and the costs of contracted employees, his budget is probably larger than it was before his attrition plan.

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