Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Kansas Budget

In this article, I will be explaining the spending side of the Kansas Budget. All of my numbers come from the Comparison Report: The FY 2012 Governor’s Budget Report with Legislative Authorizations. This document can be found at budget.ks.gov. Specifically, my numbers are from the FY 2012 Approved Budget column of Schedule 2.1: Expenditures from All Funding Sources by Agency. I will be dissecting the budget for fiscal year 2012. That budget was approved in the last legislative session and funds the Kansas government from July 1st, 2011 through June 30th, 2012.

This budget includes money from the State General Fund that was allocated by the legislature in Topeka. The rest of the revenue in the budget comes from other sources, including the federal government, and cannot be moved from one program to another by the state legislature. Funding from the State General Fund accounts for just over 6 billion dollars of the revenue in the 2012 Kansas budget.

Here is the basic breakdown of the 2012 Kansas Budget.

Percent of Total Budget
Human Services
General Government
Public Safety
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Total Budget

I will explain what tasks each of these categories perform for our state.

Education                                                                               42.93%

Here is the breakdown of the Education portion of the Kansas budget.

Percent of total budget
Department of Education

The Kansas Department of Education oversees K-12 education in Kansas. Public (K-12) schools in Kansas are financed jointly between local school districts and the Kansas Department of Education.

The term “Regents” is just a fancy word for public universities that receive state money. We have 6 public universities in Kansas: Fort Hays, Emporia, Kansas State, KU, Pittsburg, and Wichita. The money that the state spends on higher education makes college more affordable to students; every dollar the state spends on regents is a dollar less students have to pay in tuition.

Other education spending consists of programs that collectively take up less than 0.3% of the budget. These programs include the School for the Blind, the School for the Deaf, the State Library, and the Kansas Historical Society.

Human Services                                                                                34.1%

I will explain this portion of the Kansas budget by explaining its chief components.

Percent of Total Budget
Social and Rehabilitation Services
Health and Environment-Health
Department of Labor
Department on Aging

The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services

The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) protects children and provides assistance to the mentally disabled.  SRS is the agency that removes children from abusive or neglectful caregivers and facilitates their adoption to other families if the courts decide that the child cannot safely return to their previous household. SRS also runs several mental hospitals whose goal is to give their patients the skills to live independently.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment

On July 1st, the Kansas Health Policy Authority (KHPA) became a division of the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment (KDHE). The overwhelming majority of KDHE’s funding is for this division which is known as the Division of Health Care Finance (DHCF). The DHCF administers the Kansas version of Medicaid, the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, MediKan, which provides coverage for low income disabled Kansans, the State Employee Health Program, and the State Self-Insurance Fund, which provides workers compensation for State Employees who are injured at their job. 

The Division of Health within the Kansas Department of Health and Environment studies disease, makes recommendations for state health policy, and provides services that aim to achieve state health goals. The Division of Environment regulates a variety of emissions, including landfills, water supplies, air emissions, hazardous wastes, and radioactive materials. The Division of Environment also conducts environmental clean-ups, evaluates environmental conditions across the state, and levies fines against polluters that don’t comply with state and federal environmental standards.

The Department of Labor

The Department of Labor administers the Unemployment Insurance Program, processes Unemployment Insurance claims, pays state employees, and enforces employment standards including wage, hour, and child labor laws. The Department also has a division that compiles employment data for the state of Kansas.

The Department on Aging

The Kansas Department on Aging promotes the security, dignity, and independence of Kansas seniors. The Department on Aging licenses and evaluates the nursing homes in Kansas. The Department on Aging also oversees home and community based services for the elderly.

Other Human Services Spending

The rest of the Human Services portion of the Kansas budget (which makes up less than 0.2% of the total budget) consists of the Commission on Veterans Affairs and the Kansas Guardianship Program. The Commission on Veterans Affairs provides veterans and their families information, advice, and assistance in a variety of areas. The Kansas Guardianship Program assures that adults with Mental Illness that SRS decides is in need of a court appointed guardian will receive one.

Transportation                                                                        10.38%

The mission of the Kansas Department of Transportation is to provide a statewide transportation system to serve the needs of Kansas. The Department of Transportation maintains Kansas highways, improves airport runways, and adds train crossing gates to road-rail intersections.

General Government                                                              6.8%

This category consists of 46 agencies each of which individually take up less than 2 percent of the budget. These agencies perform a variety of tasks. The Department of Revenue collects taxes and runs the DMV. The Kansas Department of Commerce promotes economic development a variety of ways, including through tourism and trade.

Several agencies under the General Government umbrella regulate specific professions. The Kansas Behavioral Science Regulatory Board licenses and regulates Psychologists and Social Workers. The Kansas Board of Healing Arts licenses and regulates doctors and surgeons. The Kansas Board of Pharmacy does the same for Pharmacists.

Other expenditures in this category are the operating budgets of elected officials. Agencies with this description include the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the State Treasurer, and the Secretary of State.

Public Safety                                                                 4.37%

The largest portion of the public safety section of the budget is corrections, which take up just under 2% of the budget. Corrections spending goes to several state prisons and the Department of Corrections, which operates those state prisons. Other public safety spending goes toward juvenile justice and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which is the Kansas state-level equivalent of the FBI.

Agriculture and Natural Resources                          1.39%

The Kansas Department of Agriculture regulates the safety of the food supply, regulates the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and licenses and inspects meat and poultry plants. Other agencies under the Agriculture and Natural Resources section of the budget include the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas State Fair. The Division of Environment within the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is a part of this category as well.  


The Department of Education, Regents, Social and Rehabilitation Services, The health side of the Kansas Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Transportation make up 77.7 percent of the Kansas budget.

I did not cover every agency in the Kansas budget, but I did cover all major categories and the largest agencies. I hope you have learned the basics of the Kansas budget. Now you know where your state tax dollars are going.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Almost all of my information on the responsibilities of state agencies came from the website of that specific agency under an “About Us” or equivalent link.

Originally Posted August 23, 2011

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