(WICHITA, Kan.) — A state audit released Wednesday questions the Affordable Airfares fund.
Kansas taxpayers support the $5 million dollar a year program intended to promote airline competition and lower passenger fares in Wichita. The city and county match 25%.
The Legislature's auditors say the Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP), which is responsible for administering the state grant, exaggerated the number of jobs created and the economic return on the state's investment.
“There is some disparity in what we believe the benefits are and what they believe the benefits are,” says REAP Chair Kristey Williams who testified in Topeka on Wednesday.
She defends the program and says it works.
“We are an example of a successful partnership that has been established,” says Williams.
REAP studies conducted by Wichita State found that every $1 invested by the state generated $5.25 in return. Auditors concluded the more accurate figure would be $2.32 for every $1 in subsidies.
Auditors also question the number of jobs REAP claims the subsidy creates in the state, but don’t dispute it creates jobs.
Williams says they will adjust and do what is asked to keep the program funded.
“I believe it brings dollars back to the state. Will we have to work harder to get our message across? Yes.”
Funding for the Affordable Airfares Fund runs out at the end of this fiscal year.
It has the support of Governor Brownback.