Following is a press release from the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy regarding the high number of government employees in Kansas. This problem has been known for some time. In 2005, Alan Cobb of Americans For Prosperity noted that in the past five years “Kansas has lost 16,700 private sector jobs while the government sector actually added 15,000 jobs.”
Kansas Has Too Much Local Government
State Ranks 49th for Residents-Per-Government Efficiency
(Wichita) — Newly elected Speaker of the House Mike O’Neal is calling for consolidation of local government services in Kansas, based on a lack of efficiency and high costs to taxpayers. The Flint Hills Center for Public Policy agrees with his suggestion.
While Kansas’ population has increased at 17.4% since the 1980 census, local government employment has increased by 65%. According to Flint Hills Center President Dave Trabert, “If local government employment had grown proportionally to population, taxpayers would be spending $2.2 billion less per year on pay and benefits.” The Bureau of Economic Analysis says Kansas had 184,280 local government employees in 2007, compared to 111,660 employees in 1980. If local government employment growth had matched the population growth of 17.4%, we would have had 131,138 employees in 2007, or 53,142 fewer employees.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Kansas has 2,084 general-purpose governments (cities, townships and counties) serving 2,775,997 residents. That’s an average of 1,332 residents per government, compared to a national average of 7,725. That ranks Kansas 49th in the nation (including the District of Columbia). Only North Dakota and South Dakota rank lower than Kansas.
Speaker O’Neal is right on target. As the economy continues to suffer a downturn and state funding remains tight, now is the time to enact reforms that increase efficiency, decrease costs and reduce the burden on taxpayers.