Kansas under Republican Governor Sam Brownbeck has been a laboratory for new fiscal conservative experiments, some of these misguided. The governor has been a right-wing gunslinger blazing his way through policies.
None the less, Brownbeck and the State of Kansas has stepped in when bumbling conservatives on the national level have fallen flat on their faces.
The governor issued a statement last week promising his administration is committed to minimizing the federal government’s shutdown’s effects and can juggle state funds to programs normally covered by federal money because it has cash reserves.
The Brownback administration said the state also drew down enough federal funds before the shutdown began to continue providing benefits through October under the Women, Infants and Children program, which helps poor mothers with young children buy food. Kansas also has enough federal funds on hand to finance benefits under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program through mid-November.
TANF provides cash assistance for almost 19,000 Kansas residents, about 72 percent of them children, according to the Department for Children and Families’ latest monthly report. The Department of Health and Environment has said WIC provides help for about 70,000 Kansans.
Brownback’s office announced Thursday that he had recalled all but seven of 66 workers at the Department of Labor furloughed last week and directed the agency to cancel plans to furlough another 119. He said the moves ensure that the department can continue processing benefits for unemployed workers.
The state can cover federally financed spending because it had more than $430 million in cash reserves as of the beginning of the week.
But the governor added that an extended shutdown puts programs “in jeopardy.” But Brownbeck’s office said if the state shifts its cash reserves into those programs, it can’t be sure the federal government will reimburse it later.
If the shutdown continues into November, state officials are uncertain what will happen.
Like Brownbeck or not, his actions in this situation show fairness to the underprivileged and are a demonstration once again that lawmakers in Washington, D.C., should look to those in state government for examples of leadership.