Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jenkins on Tax Mismanagement: Counties "should never have been notified"

The tangled web of state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins' mismanagement of state motor fuel tax dollars got even more tangled yesterday when Topeka-area government officials had what the Topeka Capital-Journal called a "terse" meeting with the embattled Jenkins, during which she made it clear she had no interest in accountability and even going so far as to say the counties have no right to know so much they're been shorted or overcompensated.

Oh, and she also left the door open for massive tax increases to fix her mistake.

That from a women who seeks a higher office that requires an even greater commitment to oversight and openness than the one she currently holds.

While that attitude from Jenkins is deeply troubling, her proposal as to how the legislature should fix her failing is much worse- at least in a pocketbook sense.

Kansas Treasurer Lynn Jenkins vowed Monday to urge the 2009 Legislature to compensate counties shorted millions of dollars in state fuel tax revenue and avoid the political agony of seeking reimbursement from overpaid counties.

Shawnee County Commissioner Vic Miller and Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten, who attended a periodically terse meeting in Topeka with Jenkins, said the state treasurer's proposal would allow some counties to cling to huge financial windfalls.

"Why should they be unjustly enriched?" Miller said. "We might get what we should have been paid, but they will have received more than they should have."

"Life's not fair," Jenkins replied. "What I'm worried about is moving forward, and that will be my recommendation."

Just so we're clear on what our petulant child of a state treasurer wants to do: The Jenkins Plain will compensate the counties who have been shorted, but will not require repayment from counties who got more than they were due.

Where will all of those millions come from? It will almost definitely require increased taxes or significant cuts in state spending.

How would Lynn like to pay for it? Mums the word. That Jenkins will push off the hard choices to the State Legislature, while it was her office's blunder, is telling as to her lack of leadership ability and a quite sad coming from home who harps about accountability and diligence on the campaign trail.

There's lots more in the article regarding Jenkins' basic lack of interest in open government and public accountability for the actions of her office. Read on:
Jenkins said she chose not to voluntarily distribute to county officials a detailed report on which jurisdictions were overpaid and underpaid in 2008. She said she withheld the information to avoid a "feeding frenzy" by counties that might engage in battles with other counties over the fuel tax money.
Read: Jenkins won't tell anyone what they're due because, gee, they might get upset and ask for it. Probably not a position the local government involved will be willing to take lying down, and, oh, look! Members of local government unwilling to take that lying down were in the room with her when she said it!

During the meeting in Wagnon's office in Topeka, Miller sought a full report on all 105 counties.

"What is your interest in every other county?" Jenkins said.

"I believe that is public information that would be vital to each and every Kansas county," Miller said.

Jenkins dismissed his concern, saying "some people are bright enough to understand that it's not something we should concern ourselves with."

WHAT ON EARTH? "Some people are bright enough to understand that it's not something we should concern ourselves with"?!?!!? Did she honestly say that local governments shouldn't be concerned with the fact they've been either underpaid or overpaid by her office for years? She can't have actually said that, because to deny something so obvious would be evidence of a total disconnect from reality.

It continues, though, and it's obvious that is actually what our dear state treasurer believes:

Miller said he remained unsatisfied with the flow of information to counties about the mix-up.

"You should never have been notified," Jenkins said.

"Why is that?" Miller said.

"My hope is that you're not shorted — that you're going to be made whole," Jenkins said. "We're hoping it's irrelevant to the discussion."

The amount you've been shorted, counties, is "irrelevant to the discussion." Can you believe that?

Can you believe she actually thinks no one should be concerned about the amount of money misappropriated?

Of course every single county government and every single member of the state legislature is deeply, deeply concerned with the actual amounts of money concerned in this disaster- because someone is going to have to pay to fix this mess.

Does Lynn Jenkins just not understand that?


Anonymous said...

The Jenky Tax is coming home to roost.

Anonymous said...

jenkins is a condescending bitch

Anonymous said...

nail. in. the. coffin.

Anonymous said...

How could anyone even consider voting for Jenkins after all of this? It'll just be blind partisans who would pick a Republican like Ted Stevens...makes me sad for the country.

Anonymous said...

Vic Miller is a punk. Jenkins was treating him as such.

Nothing more nothing less.

Anonymous said...

Miller is an elected official, and should be treated as such.

Anonymous said...

What is more hilarious is that Jenkins still hasn't come up with a solution that doesn't involve passing the buck to the Legislature.

If she had any common sense, she'd figure out when the shortages began to occur (year) and figure out who was over and under compensated in terms of today's dollars. Then, all of the counties would know how much they were over/under which would be a start.

The easiest way to solve the problem is to take a small percentage (say 10-15%) out of each dispersement from here on out to the counties that received more than their share and disperse it to the counties that were under theirs. Seems to me to be a fair way to deal with the problem without flat out crippling a counties budget.

Anonymous said...

Then again, that would be a redistribution of wealth, which of course is socialism.

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