It seems that almost everywhere you turn these days, someone is talking about the need to cut back government spending, tighten state budgets and be more efficient with taxpayer money.
Just don’t come looking to the Kansas Attorney General’s office as a place where it makes sense to trim a lot of fat, Attorney General Steve Six told members of the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
“The state budget, if you think there’s any fraud and waste there, I can tell you that it’s been pinched to the bone,” Six said in his remarks at Homestead Country Club. “I think some of the focus that has been turned on [the Attorney General’s office] in terms of cutting costs actually ends up losing money for the state.”
Six pointed to his department’s work recovering funds lost to Medicaid fraud and consumer scams as proof that his office had produced a good return on investment for the state’s taxpayers. With a budget of $2.6 million last year, Six said, the department was able to recover $113 million in funds lost by citizens as well as the state and federal governments.
Six, a Democrat who lives in Lawrence, is seeking to be elected this November to return to his job as AG for a full term after having been appointed to the position in January 2008 following the resignation of Paul Morrison, who was implicated in a sex scandal. Six told the audience at Homestead one of his top priorities when he assumed the role of AG was to try to refocus its mission on protecting Kansans as opposed to settling political scores, as he implied his predecessors may have been focused on.
“This is a unique office in that it’s an elected position, but I don’t think the role should be political,” Six said. “We worked hard to turn this office around.”
Six said that working harder to protect consumers, in particular, was a top priority for him. He noted that in 2006, when Republican Phill Kline held the position, the AG’s office recovered less than $1 million lost by Kansans to fraud and scams. By 2008, that figure was up to $5.6 million. And this fiscal year, $17.3 million will have been recovered.