Before we continue our review of this past legislative session, I would like to take a moment and congratulate the district graduates from high school, universities, community colleges and technical schools. It is the beginning of a new chapter in their lives, and I look forward to watching their careers take off.
One of the sub themes in this year’s session was transparency. There were a couple of bills which will bring more activity to light when it comes to state government actions. SB 128 provides new transparency for the judicial branch in three separate areas. First, it opens up the names of the lawyers who select the Supreme Court Nominating Commission to the public, similar to public voting rolls. Second, it makes the Supreme Court Nominating Commission meetings open to the public under the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Third, it makes the names of applicants who apply for the Court of Appeals discoverable under the Kansas Open Records Act. And, SB 22 modernizes the Kansas Open Records Act to include any recorded information made in conjunction with a public employee’s official duties, regardless of location of the information. I voted for both of these bills.
Another big issue this year was reforming the budget process. The House passed HB 2739, which would improve the function of state government on a long-term basis by overhauling the way the state budget is constructed. Beginning next year, state agencies would provide legislative budget committees with complete program service inventories, with information such as: program function, program history, intersections with other state programs, federal funding and associated requirements, how much of a priority it is to the agency, consequences of not funding the program and statutory authority.
In the coming years, state agencies will realign their budgets with commonly accepted accounting practices. The new system will improve program transparency and accountability by putting all relevant information into one location, which allows for the comparison of program effectiveness and outcomes.
Every agency function will need to be justified instead of continuing to be funded simply because “it has always been done this way.” In this way, we are committed to ensuring every taxpayer dollar is used wisely in service of the people of Kansas. I also voted for this bill.
Rep. Ken Rahjes, R-Agra, represents the 110th District in the Kansas House.