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From 1974 to 1991, while the national inflation rate edged just over 100%, state government spending in Kansas grew a phenomenal 411%. During the same period, the state's federal revenue share declined from 23.9% to 19.1%. As a consequence, the average Kansas taxpayers have seen their yearly state and local tax bills increase from an average of $530 in 1974 to $1,676 in 1991. How is this money spent? What is the state government doing with it and why? Investigating these and related questions, the authors in this book address the most pressing public policy issues confronting Kansas today. They survey general revenue and demographic issues and then analyze the five policy areas-education, prisons, transportation, welfare, and health-that consume 84.3% of the state budget and that, in terms of both cost and controversy, rank highest on the state's policy agenda. Emerging from this analysis is the disturbing consensus that Kansas is an increasingly divided state: one urban, younger and wealthier; the other rural, older, and poorer. Managing the policy problems of such a state has become much more difficult and has resulted in virtually "impossible jobs" for the people charged with implementing approved policies. Responding to these problems, the authors offer ways to simplify the issues and suggest policy changes that could improve the well-being of all Kansans.
University Press of Kansas
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