Memento purchase sends bad message
Recent news reports about Kansas legislators receiving commemorative glass paperweights of the state Capitol should raise eyebrows.
At the start of the belt-tightening 2002 session, each lawmaker was presented with a $37 memento to commemorate the start of the Capitol's restoration.
Some lawmakers are questioning whether the cost of the paperweights should have been built into the overall cost of the restoration project. The $6,142 worth of paperweights for 125 House members and 40 senators is miniscule, compared with the overall project cost of $135 million.
The mementos were ordered and distributed by the Kansas Development Finance Authority, the state agency that issued bonds for the restoration project. And while the former secretary of administration who approved the paperweights said he was sorry if the decision ruffled some feathers, he still defended it.
"Six thousand dollars out of $100 million?" Dan Stanley told Harris News Service. "I don't think that will balance the budget."
No, it won't balance the state's $426 million budgetary shortfall.
But spending a portion of bond proceeds on trinkets for legislators' desks sends the wrong message.
"While it may be commonplace in the private sector, I do not favor this use of bond proceeds, nor do I think taxpayers expect or appreciate such use of taxpayer money," said Joyce Glasscock, Stanley's successor as administration secretary.
And $6,000 is $6,000. And it raises the question of how many other times the state has misspent funds.
At this point in the state's history, any hint of impropriety with funds is too much.