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Lawrence Journal-World headline doesn’t deliver

Yesterday’s edition of the Lawrence Journal-World has the headline ‘Buried treasure’ claims debunked. The headline and article refer to a report issued by the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy and covered in my post Kansas funds have large, unneeded balances.

The dictionary says that “debunk” means “to expose the sham or falseness of.” The article doesn’t come anywhere near fulfilling this promise.

The article is based on a quotation from Kansas state budget director Duane Goossen: “The key point that I would make is that while the report uses the word ‘unencumbered,’ and seems to suggest that that means somehow the balances in these funds are unplanned for, not budgeted for, or are there for the discretionary use of the agencies that hold the funds — that is not correct.

In my reading of the report, I don’t see where the claims that Goosen “debunks” are made. The central finding of the Flint Hills research is that there’s a lot of unencumbered money in these funds, and that these balances, for the most part, have grown rapidly.

The growth of these balances is the strongest evidence that many of these funds are collecting more money — be it in the form of taxes or fees — than needed to support the funds’ mission. The Journal-World article doesn’t address this issue at all.

As an aside, the comments left to this article on the newspaper’s website criticize the authors without addressing any of the substance.

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