The State of Kansas is scheduled to spend more than $22 billion this year. Still, there is little – that’s being generous – accountability for spending that money. Kansas does not have a budget or appropriations process; it has a spending process that simply distributes money. Even modest attempts to ensure that money is well-spent have been ignored for far too long.
The Kansas Legislature passed performance-based budgeting (PBB) legislation in 2016. The legislation had three years to be implemented, yet December 2021 was the first time the Kansas Legislative Research Department released a full performance-based budgeting report.
The required forms were only sometimes completed, but even if they were filled out they contained very little information. The self-identified metrics that do exist offer little to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent efficiently or to achieve the intended goals. Outcome measures listed vary from being unrelated to program goals, impossible to be meaningfully affected by the program’s activities, or sometimes even reinforcing the status quo instead of meaningfully recording how problems are being addressed, let alone solved. An egregious example is in the Adjutant General’s Department’s Public Affairs Office, where two outcomes measured the percentage of time the Joint Information Center was staffed. It begs the question: why would the office not be staffed?
And yet, even by the individual agencies’ own standards, too many programs failed. In fact, in FY 2021 state agencies funneled $815 million to programs that were self-identified as having performance measures with declining outputs in which funding was increasing; even worse, some of that $815 million included funding increases were the required reports were left blank. For instance, none of the 14
programs under the Kansas Department of Corrections’ direct preview had outcomes listed or were left entirely blank.
Performance-based budgeting is core to maintaining an efficient government that minimizes its cost burden on taxpayers. Efficient spending reduces the need for tax hikes, which in turn gives people and businesses more financial freedom and creates a stronger state economy. Kansas needs this type of commitment to reform and efficient spending if it hopes to break decades of big government and economic stagnation. The key to spending constraint – as outlined in our Responsible Kansas Budget plan – is to make sure that the money being spent is done well and achieves the goals put forth.
You can view the full report released in tandem with Americans for Prosperity Foundation below.