October 23, 2014

Public funds should not be used for lobbying

Members of the Kansas Senate hosted testimony February 11 on Senate Bill 109 that would outlaw public monies being used for lobbying. We believe this is one of the most important bills to come before the legislature, and one that deserves the attention of hardworking, recession-weary Kansans.
The bill, which members of the Senate Ethics, Elections and Local Government Committee vetted in hearings on Monday, would disallow the use of public funds being used directly or indirectly for lobbying by a city, county or state entity. Under the proposal, taxpayer dollars could also not be used to pay membership dues to associations that perform lobbying.
Back in the 1990s, then Reps. John Toplikar, John Ballou and Jene Vickrey introduced  similar legislation, as did former Senator Kay O’Connor several years later. At the time, the legislation was considered radical. We hope it’s an idea whose time has finally come.
SB 109 faces stiff opposition in the form of public lobbying groups like the League of Kansas Municipalities (LKM) the Kansas Association of Counties (KACC) and the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB). They want your money, and they want to use it to extract even more dollars from your pockets. And they’re good at it – they’ve been doing it nearly out-of-sight of the average citizen for years.
Many taxpayers don’t realize the number of cities that have registered lobbyists including: Overland Park, Shawnee, Derby , Topeka, Wichita, Lenexa, or the number of government professional organizations that lobby for more tax money including: LKM, KACC, KASB and others: Johnson County Community College, Johnson County Government, Kansas Association of Community College Trustees.
Wonder why your pockets seem empty? Check out the complete list of lobbyists available at the Kansas Secretary of State website found at: http://www.kssos.org/elections/lobbyist_directory_by_Client_display.asp. The salary, or dues paid, to these lobbyists is not readily available.
Lobbying is not inherently bad, and private lobbyists have a place in providing information. But the use of tax money to lobby for more tax money is wrong. While government lobbyists whine that SB109 limits free speech, that’s not true. Publicly funded entities are just that – entities – not citizens.
In all of the years we’ve been covering local politics, we’ve never seen a publicly funded organization like the LKM or the KACC lobby for taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money. Almost exclusively they lobby for additional spending on behalf of their members. That means less money in the hands of those who actually produce – small business owners and Kansas workers.
If you want to keep a little change in your wallet, contact your legislators about SB109 and  them to protect the interests of the average citizen.
Tax money should not be used to lobby for more tax funds.

Comments

  1. ThePatriot says:

    So local taxpayers are not to have any say over how state tax revenues are distributed throughout the Sate? Any private company can lobby for any pet project, but local taxpayers who want to improve their cities, schools, roads, libraries, or parks cannot. This bill gives private entities the right to lobby unopposed for something in a community that is opposed by local citizens. In reality, taxpayers would have very limited means to present their case to the legislature.

    Aren’t local cities or schools in the best position to provide relevant information to the legislature concerning the circumstances in their community? If the schools cannot fight for the best education program possible, who will?

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