There have been questions about transparency and accountability in the media and at our local legislative coffees. Last week I introduced HB2747 in Appropriations Committee as an effective and efficient fix to our state government accountability. In response to numerous reports of recent alleged abuses by state agencies, I introduced legislation establishing a state auditor accountable to voters and taxpayers.
Government has grown too large, and the mechanisms for accountability have become diluted with no clear party responsible for effective oversight. As a military veteran, I know firsthand that clear lines of leadership are key to the success of a mission, that’s why we need an empowered state auditor who is directly accountable to the voters of our state.
Recent scandals have highlighted a need for Kansas to establish more rigorous oversight. The audit function currently in place is subject to political influence by a large committee within the Legislature. It is a process further hampered by the sporadic nature of legislative oversight — whether by direct audit or committee hearing as oversight largely amounts to but a few meetings spread over months. Worse yet is oversight exercised solely within interrelated bureaucracies. In either case, there is no easily identifiable and consistently accountable party for these efforts on behalf of taxpayers.
Oversight is about efficiency and effectiveness and that’s why my proposal calls for reenergizing the existing, largely dormant, elective office of state treasurer. It is time we restored the stewardship and oversight authority to the treasurer that is expected by Kansas taxpayers of our chief financial officer.
A simple majority vote of both the House and Senate, along with the signature of the governor, my proposal can be enacted immediately. By empowering the elected Kansas State Treasurer, there is no need to amend our constitution to grow government with the addition of yet another political office and duplicative bureaucracy.
Quick action to establish a State Auditor is needed as evidenced by recent scandals involving allegations of corruption at the Department of Commerce, misappropriation of funds at the Kansas Department of Education, and ongoing reports of irregularities regarding the use of STAR bond financing. Additionally, at time when the state is seeking revenues for education and other services, decades of accumulated tax exemptions, abatements, rebates, and other state funded incentives totaling in the billions of dollars have largely escaped review of their value and effectiveness.
This proposal meets the immediacy of need, while achieving accountability, efficiency and effectiveness, without burdening taxpayers with an expansion of government.
Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, represents Franklin County and the 5th District in the Kansas House. Email him at email@example.com or call (785) 296-6287.