Sen. Dennis Pyle, a Hiawatha Republican, is proposing citizens elect a state auditor for one, four-year term. The auditor would be required to find enough government waste and fraud to pay for itself, otherwise the position would expire.
In a press release, Pyle said the catalyst for his proposal is a recent legislative post audit that revealed the Kansas State Department of Education was allocating to public schools transportation funds contrary to state law. Legislative leaders in the House and Senate requested an independent forensic audit and the suspension of deputy education commissioner Dale Dennis in response, but the state board of education declined both recommendations.
“Given the recent findings of misuse, which took some 30 years to discover, it is apparent a full audit of all branches of state government should happen,” Pyle said.
The audit only went back five years. Auditors discovered Dennis authorized $45 million of overpayment of transportation funds in the last five years. Legislators eliminated a minimum transportation weighting in 1978, so schools may have received unauthorized funding of more than $400 million since then.
Pyle said a state auditor answerable to the electorate is necessary to “allow sunshine into state government activities and restore some confidence to the citizenry.”
Lawmakers will consider legislation that would authorize the way Dennis determined transportation funding. They also face a Kansas Supreme Court mandated deadline of April 30 to develop a full, new school funding formula. The Court ruled the current formula unconstitutional.
“With Kansas facing many challenges including the pending school finance case, making sure every taxpayer dollar is accounted for and spent for the purpose it was appropriate is more relevant than ever,” Pyle said. “An elected auditor assigned to a specific task to be thoroughly completed and reported within the four year time frame could potentially be a great investment with a great return.”