Kansas budget director apologizes for erroneous number in Brownback presentations

The director of the Kansas Budget Division issued a public apology Monday for an errant spending statistic that Gov. Sam Brownback has used for months to claim credit for state spending cuts that never happened.

The error was contained in a chart showing state all-funds spending 1965-2012, which Brownback has regularly used in a PowerPoint presentation at speaking engagements to opinion leaders across the state.

The chart showed state spending peaking at about $16 billion in 2010 — the final year of Gov. Mark Parkinson’s administration. The actual spending that year was $14.04 billion.

As detailed in a Wichita Eagle story Sunday, Brownback had repeatedly used the number in claiming to have reduced state spending since taking office at the beginning of 2011.

In fact, spending under the Brownback administration has been higher than it was under Parkinson, the opposite of what the chart showed.

“The Kansas Office of the Budget maintains internal records documenting the rolling expenditures of the State of Kansas,” said a statement by Budget Director Steve Anderson. “The spreadsheet is updated regularly to record the most recent information.

“Upon review, we have discovered a mistake in a 2010 entry which was the source of the error passed along by the budget office to Gov. Brownback’s office. We should have caught the incorrect information but we did not. I apologize to Gov. Brownback and the citizens of Kansas for this error.”

Anderson said the error was not included in the budget plan that Brownback submitted to the Legislature.

In addition to the overall spending number, the Sunday story in The Eagle also raised questions about a separate set of numbers the governor has used in his presentations, where he states that the state’s schools lack adequate fiscal discipline.