Government spending in Kansas a microcosm of every state?

TRACKSIDE   (c)   by John D'Aloia Jr.
April 7, 2002

Where, oh where do my tax dollars go! A state government document floating around the capitol this past week gave an insight into where Kansas tax dollars go - and perhaps an insight into why the political establishment wants to increase taxes, to separate you from even more of your own money. The document is actually four quarterly reports for the year 2001 listing the non-competitive purchases made by the state and the "sole source" rationales for each purchase.

The governorís airplane was a non-competitive purchase. Taxpayers shelled out $5.5 million to Raytheon Aircraft in July 2001 for the twin-engine turbo-prop King-Air 350. Why did the state not bid it out? The rationale given is "Only known provider." Come on, give me a break. There are no aircraft brokers or dealers in Kansas or in the nation who would not have salivated at a chance to make a bid on such a purchase? And why new? I am told by airplane savvy people that airplanes, as do cars, take a large depreciation hit when they fly out of a dealerís hanger. It is hard to believe that there did not exist in the country a similar air-worthy aircraft with much safe-flying life left in it that could not have been had for a lot less money, even if it had to be re-engined and up-to-date avionics installed. (KU spent $100,000 sole source with Cessna to maintain and repair a plane in 2001.)

The governorís trips to basketball games are not the only eyebrow raising trips made with the plane. A reporter for The Lawrence Daily World reviewed the aircraftís log books. Among the trips he reported was a trip the governor took to the Liberal Pancake Day Celebration. Along for the ride were Long-Green party statewide candidates, all facing primary opponents, who assured one and all that of course, no campaigning took place. Another trip, logged in at $3,225.00, took the lieutenant governor to Phoenix to watch KSU get beat in the Insight.com Bowl. The article stated that the lieutenant governor claimed that it was a legitimate taxpayer paid expense because he was going as a representative of the state. Let them eat cake.

For the year 2001, the total purchases made by the state without competitive bidding totaled $84.1 million. Not much less than the governorís plane was the $5 million contract SRS gave to The Consortium, Inc. to "serve as an administrative services organization charged with improving the delivery of mental health services to Kansas consumers." The rationale? "Only known provider." (I leave it to your mental acuity to add your own comments on the validity of the rationales noted herein.) Further on in the report, we find the Kansas Lottery contracting with the Kansas Speedway Corporation for $429,000.00 worth of advertising and promotional services. Rationale: only known provider. The Consortium also got $5,577.50 for a 24-hour crisis help line for individuals with gambling problems. Rationale: "Patent, copyright, specialized training, or consulting services. (PCSTCS)" The state inflames peopleís gambling addiction with lottery advertizing, then it uses the societal mess it has created as its own rationale for demanding and spending more tax dollars. $5,577.50 is just the tip of the iceberg. Professor John Kindt, University of Illinois, an expert on gamblingís impacts, wrote in the West Virginia Public Affairs Reporter that a newly created pathological gambler costs society between $13,200 and $52,000 per year.

The Department of Aging contracted with Kansas Pharmacy Services for $1.2M to provide prescription drugs for the Kansas Senior Pharmacy Assistance Program. Rationale: PCSTCS. KDOT sent $122,720.00 to a Lawrence non-profit, DCCCA, Inc., to develop, administer, and analyze a seat belt survey. Rationale: PCSTCS. Is DCCCA the only entity that could do this work? Will society still function without this survey? Should not the $122 thousand have been left in taxpayersí wallets? Yes, I know, seat-belt money is probably pass-through federal dollars, but a tax dollar is a tax dollar, no matter where it comes from, no matter who launders it. DCCCA is existing on tax-dollar grants to the tune of about $10 million a year. If the federal government was actually limited to the scope set forth in the Constitution, The Guardians would be neutralized, cut off from their funding source, and employees at places like DCCCA which came into existence solely to partake at the public trough would have to make their living in a productive manner, contributing to society, not sponging off it.

In contemplating all this, a bumper sticker seen on the back of an old pick-up truck came to mind: "Donít Steal - The Government Does Not Like Competition."

 

See you Trackside.

 

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