Instead of rushing to cut services or raise taxes to find millions to plug budget holes, the Legislature might root around musty accounts held by boards, commissions, agencies and school districts. A recent report by Kansas Watchdog found billions–billions–in unencumbered or carryover accounts held by nearly 2,000 government agencies. These are funds not needed to meet bills or pay other obligations. The report took a long time and lots of effort. But when you find billions of dollars that could provide services and stimulate the economy instead of earn interest for bureaucrats, it could be worth the try.
It’s a very impressive effort by Kansas Watchdog, and maybe something that should be tried here. Particularly when educators and teachers unions want to raise taxes to meet “pressing needs” or “avoid damaging cuts” to education, we should learn from Kansas. Kansas Watchdog first got interested in unencumbered funds when it discovered over a billion dollars in unencumbered funds being held by “cash-strapped” school districts.