The governor's budget director, Secretary Shawn Sullivan, released a proposal to a joint committee of House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committee members.
Director Sullivan revealed the trends of state spending going back 50 years under several governors of both parties. See the chart below. Through this graph, you can see how decades of spending contributed towards creating a bloated government. Over the past few years, the Legislature has taken steps to reduce spending and bring about the end of big government - a desire Kansans have consistently expressed at the ballot box the past three election cycles.
Please note that state spending since 2011 has increased an average of 1.8% annually, which is below the rate of inflation. Past administrations increased state spending by an average of over 10% annually. Household budgets cannot increase at such a rate to provide the tax dollars needed for such unsustainable government spending. Please see the chart below to get an overall historical picture.
In the past few legislative sessions, much has been done to control state spending, despite massive federal regulations from the EPA, Obamacare, increases in Medicaid caseloads and the additional funding for K-12 education. Here is a chart describing the broader areas where state spending goes:
Here are some of the recommendations from the Governor's Budget:
Kansas Department of Transportation - The governor's budget proposal includes transferring $25.0 million from the department of transportation to the general fund. The budget director reports that this will not result in the cancellation of any previously announced road projects. Some good news - significant savings have been realized due to construction projects coming in under original cost estimates. Kansas can and will continue to have the best roads in the country. A robust maintenance plan that continues to be in place.
Children's Initiative Fund - The budget proposal shifts the Children's Initiative Fund (CIF) to the general fund. The CIF has numerous programs for children including; the Children's Mental Health Initiative, the Children's Cabinet, the Child Care Quality Initiative, Early Childhood Block Grants, Kansas Reads to Succeed, and Early Head Start. This proposal does not eliminate CIF. Every program will continue to be funded by the state.
In the past, CIF has not been considered part of the state general fund and has been "off budget." This transfer brings more transparency to the budgetary process by ensuring expenditures are fully accounted for.
The budget proposal also moved the "Children's Cabinet" to the Department of Education, making it easier to coordinate early childhood education programs across the state. The Kansas Department of Education supports this change.
Other recommendations include means testing the Parents As Teachers program (PAT), which allows taxpayer dollars to be targeted for those who need it most.
Kansas Bioscience Authority - The Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA) voted to move towards privatization in its December meeting and the governor proposed legislation to authorize it. The sale would add an estimated $25 million in revenue to the FY 2017 budget, but it would also allow the KBA to continue its mission of stimulating economic growth throughout the bioscience industry.