Tracking subsidy money in Kansas

WICHITA, Kansas — The state of Kansas recently spent more than 70 million dollars to create new jobs but who gets the money is not made clear to the public?

Kansas has to spend money to compete for jobs according to state leaders but why does the state only offer a general listing online of economic incentive spending that total 73.6 million dollars? One watchdog group is now giving Kansas a zero in accountability.

Wichita and Sedgwick County leaders are strategizing Thursday at a motivational lunch and talking about bringing jobs to Wichita. The state itself recently spent 73.6 million dollars on economic development incentives. But the website called “Good Jobs First” is asking where is all that money going?

“This puts Kansas way in the dark in terms of where taxpayer money went, that is, which companies got economic development incentives and what’s happening with the money,” said Greg LeRoy, from Good Jobs First.

Greg LeRoy’s website shows the state of Kansas is getting a score of zero for online disclosure of public funds being spent on economic development.

“We don’t put anything on the website that does not yet have a signed contract, when it comes to economic development incentives. But after the contract is signed with a company, that information is available through a Kansas Open Records Act request, so the information is available,” said Matt Keith, with the Kansas Department of Commerce.

“We embrace accountability. We want to make sure that all Kansans know what we are achieving and what are the results. You can go to the Kansas.gov and it’s a great place to start,” said Jeff Colyer, Kan. Lt. Governor.

Specifically, the Lt. Governor said to check the commerce department website so KSN did that and so did the watchdog website but neither could find specifics.

“And we’d love to be corrected. We’d love to know there is data out there that we didn’t see but we did call them as we do everybody whose programs we rate to make sure we haven’t missed anything. So bring it on I guess is what I would say,” said LeRoy.

The Commerce Department spokesperson KSN talked to says the information is available on the specific spending we asked about but is not online. The spokesperson said all you have to do is file a Kansas open records act request to get it. KSN will do just that and we follow this story and we will check back to find out where the money is going.

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