A bill has been introduced in the Kansas Senate that would end or limit taxpayer-funded lobbying.
The heart of this bill, SB 109, is “No public funds may be used directly or indirectly for lobbying. No public funds may be used to pay membership dues to an association that is engaged in lobbying the state. Public funds shall not be used for the purpose of employing or contracting for the service of any person whose duty and responsibility includes lobbying.”
Taxpayer-funding lobbying is one of the worst excesses of government. Commenting on the revelation that TARP bailout funds were spent on lobbying, David Boaz wrote:
It’s bad enough to have our tax money taken and given to banks whose mistakes should have caused them to fail. It’s adding insult to injury when they use our money — or some “other” money; money is fungible — to lobby our representatives in Congress, perhaps for even more money.
Get taxpayers’ money, hire lobbyists, get more taxpayers’ money. Nice work if you can get it.
Later in the same article he wrote: “Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for the very lobbying that seeks to suck more dollars out of the taxpayers.”
Locally, Americans for Prosperity-Kansas wrote this last year:
Taxpayer-funded lobbying reform has been a part of AFP-Kansas’ legislative agenda for a number of years. Back in 2007, we conducted a statewide open records request to find out just how many government entities and associations were using tax dollars to lobby the legislature for more tax dollars. We had a hard time getting answers. Many local governments were part of such associations that regularly lobby, but few were willing to recognize that it was tax dollars paying for those memberships, and tax dollars helping fund the organizations’ lobbying efforts.
Fighting the endless cycle of taxpayer-funded lobbying has been a part of this organization’s mission for years, so we welcomed news this week that the Brownback Administration is trying to do something about it. The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services is changing language to its contracts in an effort to tighten restrictions on taxpayer-funded lobbying by state contractors.
This is certainly an important step, but more can be done. AFP-Kansas will continue to push for legislation restricting taxpayer-funded lobbying in all forms. Unless we are able to achieve serious reforms, the culture of “more is never enough” under the capitol dome is sure to continue.”
Taxpayer-funded lobbying can be very expensive in two ways: First, the cost of performing the lobbying, and secondly, the cost of the government spending that the lobbyists seek.
And that lobbying can be expensive, successful or not. The lobbyist for USD 259, the Wichita public school district is paid $99,588 per year, according to records at Kansas OpenGov. Since she spends much time in Topeka (that’s where the money is), there’s surely much additional travel and lodging expense.
Oh, and she’s not really a lobbyist. That’s a crude word to use to describe someone who’s only working for the kids, as the school district tells us. Instead, she’s Director of Governmental Affairs.
Either way, we’ll all be better off if we don’t have to pay for government lobbying government.