Can governor’s numbers be trusted?

Credit Steve Anderson, Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director, for Monday’s apology for a whopper of a claim that state spending has dropped nearly $2 billion since 2010. A chart that Brownback has used in presentations around the state said that state spending had peaked at $16 billion under Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson in 2010 when it actually was $14.04 billion. Rather than representing the “first bending down of the cost curve in 40 years for the state,” as Brownback characterized it to the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in December, state spending actually rose between 2010 and 2011 before dipping in 2012 to a level still above that when Parkinson left office. It’s hard to believe such a big, bogus number could masquerade as fact until The Eagle’s Dion Lefler challenged it, leading to Anderson’s acknowledgment that “we should have caught the incorrect information but we did not.” The Brownback administration’s numbers have come into question on other issues, too, including how only 54 percent of education funding is getting “into the classroom,” how merging the Kansas Turnpike Authority and the state Transportation Department would save $30 million over two years and how privatizing Medicaid will save $1 billion over five years. Of course, many also would say the governor’s calculation that deep income-tax cuts won’t wreck the state budget is a case of fuzzy math.