Kansas Liberty: 05 February 2009
Kansans who spend $5.5 billion a year on K-12 education 'deserve to know how every dollar is spent.' Bill follows important Blackwell endorsement
Huelskamp bill pushes for school district spending transparency
Kansas school districts, far and away the state’s biggest consumer of tax dollars, would be required to post on a state website information detailing their financial dealings, under a bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Tim Huelskamp, a Fowler Republican.
“Kansas businesses and citizens spend nearly $5.5 billion to educate our children – they deserve to know how every dollar is spent,” Huelskamp said in a statement given to Kansas Liberty late Thursday afternoon.
The state website, called KanView, allows citizens to review financial transactions by agencies, salaries of public officials, etc.
KanView was an outgrowth of an amendment offered by Huelskamp during the 2007 legislative session. Formally called the Kansas Taxpayer Transparency Act, it required the state to develop a searchable, publicly accessible website reporting the financial activity of state government. It was the first effort of its kind in the nation.
“With the successful development of KanView for state government, we are now ready for the next threshold – providing that same level of transparency for the financial activities of our school districts,” Huelskamp said in the release.
In addition, Huelskamp’s proposal, Senate Bill 226, would require the Legislature to provide a concise, easily reviewable listing of legislative votes.
“In order to hold us accountable, our citizens need quick, easy access to our voting records,” Huelskamp said. “But with the current legislative website, it is nearly impossible to track legislative votes. Instead, this bill would provide for simple, daily Internet updates of our voting records to allow constituent review and criticism.”
Huelskamp, a candidate for the congressional seat that will be vacated by U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, has been a champion of government transparency. That commitment helped earn him the endorsement of Ken Blackwell, who was among candidates for the position of chair of the Republican National Committee.
In a letter distributed to Kansas conservatives this week, Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state, wrote:
"Whether it is fighting for the right to life or for more transparency in government, Tim Huelskamp has proven himself to be not just a voice in favor of conservatism – but a reliable vote for common sense conservative positions.”
Huelskamp said he was gratified at the endorsement.
“I only know Ken from afar; this was an endorsement based on my record over a dozen years, not on any longstanding friendship,” he told Kansas Liberty Thursday.
Last Friday, Blackwell's endorsement of Michael Steele helped Steele to become the first African-American chairman of the RNC. Steele also was supported by Mike Pompeo, a conservative and one of three national GOP delegates from Kansas.
Steele was generally considered the most moderate of candidates for the RNC post. When he was in Kansas last year, he scolded conservatives, telling them "to call people 'RINOs' is a lie."
However, Huelskamp said he had been assured by Blackwell and other conservatives who supported Steele’s candidacy that he could count on Steele’s “conservative credentials.”
- Phil LaCerte
Previously on Kansas Liberty: