“Perpetual” Funding For Children’s Programs All But Gone
A Topeka-based children’s advocacy group says legislators’ inability to keep their hands out of a pot of money meant to permanently fund children’s programs in Kansas has drained that funding nearly dry.
Kansas Action for Children says the fund was established to invest the proceeds of a multi-state tobacco settlement to pay for programs to benefit kids in Kansas. KAC President and CEO Shannon Cotsoradis says instead, lawmakers have tapped it again and again over the last 15 years, to the tune of almost $200 million, to support other budget priorities.
“There certainly was a choice. Policymakers had the choice to repeal the tax cuts that were passed in 2012 to avoid situations like this, where we are again short-circuiting investments that we made a commitment to many years ago," Cotsoradis says. "So, certainly, this is a choice. There were alternatives.”
Cotsoradis says had that $200 million been invested, it would easily have grown to $365 million by now. Had it been used for high-quality children’s programs, it would have brought a return of almost $1.5 billion—an estimate Cotsoradis says is conservative. As it now stands, Cotsoradis says the fund will be down to $140 thousand by the start of fiscal 2017, about a year from now.
Bryan Thompson is a reporter with the Heartland Health Monitor.