Voice For Liberty
Individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas.


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A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that ... it gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.
-- Milton Friedman

Tariff policy beneficiaries are always visible, but its victims are mostly invisible. Politicians love this. The reason is simple: The beneficiaries know for whom to cast their ballots, and the victims don't know whom to blame for their calamity.
-- Walter E. Williams

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
-- John Quincy Adams

There can be no greater sacrifice than that a man lay down his lifestyle for others.
-- P.J. O'Rourke
From Pachyderm: Professor Mel Kahn on 2018 Election Results
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Wichita State University Political Science Professor Mel Kahn speaking on the results of the 2018 General Election. This informative and entertaining presentation was recorded on November 9, 2018. Introduction was by Dalton Glasscock.
Click here for the audio presentation.
WichitaLiberty.TV: Bob and Karl look at election results
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Bob and Karl look at election results nationally, in Kansas, and in Sedgwick County. View here. Episode 217, broadcast November 11, 2018.

Kansans voted for growth, not stagnation
Kansans need of a new way of thinking. They won't get that from a Democrat or Republican as governor, writes Michael Austin, Director of the Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government at the Kansas Policy Institute.
Click here for the full story.
Wichita employment, September 2018
For the Wichita metropolitan area in September 2018, jobs are up, the labor force is up, and the unemployment rate is down, compared to the same month one year ago.
Click here for the full story.

KPI launches first episode of "Choosing Freedom"
Choosing Freedom with Dave Trabert is an initiative of Kansas Policy Institute, and will air weekly on multiple stations across the State. Choosing Freedom will cover the most pressing issues impacting our personal freedoms in Kansas.
Click here for the full story.
Déjà vu scandals in Sedgwick County government
The Sedgwick County Commission scandals are an outrage for me. I must speak out against the appalling revelations that provide explicit evidence of illegal misconduct in our county government, writes Karl Peterjohn.
Click here for the full story.
The Pete Meitzner era in Wichita
Wichita City Council Member Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita) is running for a position on the Sedgwick County Commission.

He's running on his record of economic development. His website says: "Pete's seven years on the City Council has proven to be a large part of the positive momentum we have recently experienced."

Let's take a look at the record. Click here to view a presentation of the numbers.

From Pachyderm: Robert L. Bradley, Jr.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Robert L. Bradley, Jr. He is CEO and Founder of Institute for Energy Research, visiting fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, and an adjunct scholar at both the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. His topic at the Pachyderm Club was "The Contra-Capitalist Corporation (In Search of Heroic Capitalism)." 
Click here for the audio recording and visual presentation.
Pete Meitzner for Sedgwick County?
In normal times, Republicans may be reluctant to vote for a Democrat for the Sedgwick County Commission. But these are not normal times, and a vote for Pete Meitzner sends a message that we just don't care about our economy.
Click here for the full story.
Taxing Online Sales Isn't A Kansas Windfall
In the heat of campaign season Kansans have heard it's good to tax X and not Y, or we should spend taxpayer dollars on A and not B. Coincidentally under all of this debate comes the Wayfair Decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled that states have the authority to tax online sales in certain circumstances. However, Kansas already receives sales tax from Amazon and other large retailers because they are physically present in Kansas. As a result, a discussion on taxing online sales has been focused on smaller, and more elusive, out-of-state businesses. From Kansas Policy Institute.
Click here for the full story.
How Google News Works to Stigmatize Kochs, Advance Kansas Dems
Unlike most of the very rich pouring money into Kansas, the Kochs are from Kansas and have made many Kansans wealthy. Their extraordinary generosity to liberal institutions, including Chapman University, has merited them very little, not security and not even a passing stab at the truth. From The Sentinel.
Click here for the full story.
KPI publishes 2018 Voter Issue Guide
Whoever is elected governor and to the Kansas House of Representatives this fall will face some very serious issues come January. Kansas Policy Institute does not support or oppose candidates for public office, but we do provide educational information to the public about key economic and education issues facing Kansans. Our 2018 Voter Issue Guide is intended to arm readers with facts and key questions to consider so each reader can be better informed on the issues. From Kansas Policy Institute.
Click here for the full story.
WichitaLiberty.TV: Richard Ranzau and Renee Duxler
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau explains the current problems with corruption in the county. Then, Renee Duxler tells us why she's running for Sedgwick County Commission. View here. Episode 215, broadcast October 28, 2018.

Schools misinterpret 'efficiency' in WestEd study
The WestEd school funding cost study commissioned earlier this year by the Kansas legislature has been cited by some education officials as saying school efficiency is very high, meaning there is little room to reduce costs in the state's 286 school districts.  But that's a misinterpretation.  Dr. Lori Taylor, lead author of the study, graciously took time to respond to several questions about the study's reference to efficiency. From Kansas Policy Institute.
Click here for the full story.
Gambling with Taxpayers' Paychecks, Consensus Revenue Estimating Needs Reform
Many are unaware that Kansas state government participates in its own lottery. However, the difference between this type of government gamble and buying a MegaMillions ticket is that if the state makes the wrong bet, the taxpayer could end up living paycheck to paycheck. From Kansas Policy Institute.
Click here for the full story.
Kansas jobs, September 2018
For September 2018, more jobs in Kansas than last September, but fewer than in August.
Click here for the full story.
From Pachyderm: Kansas House candidates
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Republican candidates for the Kansas House of Representatives. Appearing were Steven Kelly, 72nd District; Cheryl Helmer, 79th District; J.C. Moore, 93rd District; and Susan Humphries, 99th District. This was recorded on October 19, 2018.
Click here for the full story.
Kansas highway pavement conditions
What is the condition of Kansas highways?
Click here for the full story.
Extravagant clothes and furniture are cheap. An education? Not so much.
As the incomes grow, so do the prices of goods and services. The latest statistics on consumer prices showed inflation growing by 1.9 percent. Though growth in wages help Kansans' purchasing power remain on top of the growth in prices, it won't last forever. This begs the question, what is driving inflation, and can it provide any insight on how to lessen the pressure on our wallets? From Kansas Policy Institute.
Click here for the full story.
WichitaLiberty.TV: United States Representative Ron Estes
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Republican candidate for Congress Representative Ron Estes explains why he should continue to be our representative in the United States House of Representatives. View here. Episode 214, broadcast October 21, 2018.

Political civility in our age of thuggery
From Karl Peterjohn, an account of why the Wichita Pachyderm Club is a valuable civic institution.
Click here for the full story.
Kansas highway spending
A look at actual spending on Kansas highways, apart from transfers.
Click here for the full story.
Kansas school spending, through 2018
Charts of Kansas school spending presented in different forms.

One of the most important charts shows state spending per-pupil, adjusted for inflation. It shows the total of state and local spending, which is useful because in 2015 the state made a change in the way revenue is allocated between state and local sources. It also shows base state aid per pupil, which is an important number as it is the starting point for the school funding formula.

Why is total state and local spending higher than base state aid? Weightings add to the base to compensate school districts for things like at-risk children, English language learners, and other items. These weightings have grown over time, so as base state aid has generally fallen, total spending has generally risen.

A second chart shows the ratio of total state and local spending to base state aid.

This is not simply a technical matter. In discussions of school policy, sometimes only the base aid figure is used. As it has fallen, some formulate an argument that school spending has been cut. That is easily refuted by looking at total state and local spending.
Click here for the full story.
WichitaLiberty.TV: Author Lenore Skenazy, "America's Worst Mom"
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Author Lenore Skenazy talks about today's children and the free-range kids movement. View here. Episode 212, broadcast October 7, 2018.

From Pachyderm: Economic development incentives
A look at some of the large economic development programs in Wichita and Kansas.

Here's video of a presentation I gave at the Wichita Pachyderm Club this week on economic development incentives. The video was produced by Paul Soutar of Graphic Lens. View here.

Education gap on Wichita City Council
Currently there is discussion in Wichita on whether higher education is valued by residents. Following, from April 2011, a look at the educational achievement of the Wichita City Council.
Click here for the full story.
If you aren't getting email from Voice for Liberty
Troubleshoot why you aren't getting email from Voice for Liberty or other senders.
Click here for the full story.
Wichita economy shrinks, and a revision
The Wichita economy shrank in 2017, but revised statistics show growth in 2016. For 2017, the Wichita metropolitan area GDP, in real dollars, fell by 1.4 percent. Revised statistics for 2016 indicate growth of 3.8 percent for that year. Last year BEA reported growth of -1.4 percent.
Click here for the full story.
Kansas agriculture and the economy
What is the importance of agriculture to the Kansas economy?

The table shows that for 2017, agriculture counted for 3.2 percent of the Kansas economy. For the period 1997 to 2017, it was 2.7 percent. There are many industry groups with greater output than agriculture.
Click here for the full story.
GDP by metropolitan area and component
An interactive visualization of gross domestic product by metropolitan area and industry. An example from the visualization compares Wichita metro GDP growth to that of the nation's metropolitan areas.
Click here for the full story.
School funding sets new record at $13,620 per-pupil
School funding set another new record in Kansas last year, averaging $13,620 per-pupil. Data just released by the Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) also shows a new State Aid record was set $9,086 per-pupil. Total funding hit $6.5 billion, which was about a $400 million increase over the previous year. From Kansas Policy Institute.
Click here for the full story.
The use of sales tax proceeds in Wichita
Must the City of Wichita spend its share of Sedgwick County sales tax proceeds in a specific way?

Excerpt: We often hear that half the city's share of the sales tax is pledged for Kellogg construction. In actuality it is pledged to "Wichita road, highway and bridge projects."

But really, it isn't even pledged to that. The pledge is in the form of a city ordinance. It may be changed at any time at the will of four council members.

Yes, the ordinance says the city intends to continue using the tax revenues in the same way "as a matter of faith and trust." Unfortunately, that trust has been destroyed in many ways, one being council members who tell us things that aren't true.
Click here for the full story.
From Pachyderm: Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner. This was recorded on September 14, 2018.
Click here for the full story and audio recording.
Kansas tax receipts
Kansas tax receipts by category, presented in an interactive visualization.
Click here for the full story.
State government employees in Kansas
Kansas has more state government employees per resident than most states, and the trend is rising.
Click here for the full story.
Wichita Wingnuts settlement: There are questions
It may be very expensive for the City of Wichita to terminate its agreement with the Wichita Wingnuts baseball club, and there are questions.
Click here for the full story.
More TIF spending in Wichita
The Wichita City Council will consider approval of a redevelopment plan in a tax increment financing (TIF) district. 

Of note, this public hearing is being held after the fact, sort of. City documents state: "A development agreement was approved by the City Council on August 7, to allow for the developer to begin non-TIF eligible improvements in order to meet deadlines for a new tenant." Citizens have to wonder will the September 11 public hearing have any meaning or relevance, given that on August 7 the city gave its de facto approval of the redevelopment plan.
Click here for the full story.
Kansas state and local taxes
Among nearby states, Kansas collects a lot of taxes, on a per-resident basis.
Click here for the full story.

Wichita, not that different
We have a lot of neat stuff in Wichita. Other cities do, too.

Excerpt: It's great to love your city. But we can't afford to be lulled into complacency - a false recognition of achievement - when all the data says otherwise.
Click here for the full story.
Wichita checkbook updated
As part of an ongoing transparency project, I asked the City of Wichita for check register data. I've made the data available in a visualization using Tableau Public. This visualization is updated with data through August 31, 2018.
Click here for the full story and data.
Local government employment in Kansas
Kansas has nearly the highest number of local government employees per resident, compared to other states.

For all local government employees, Kansas had 50.59 per thousand residents in 2016, higher than all states (and areas) but the District of Columbia and Wyoming. These employees had an annual payroll of $2,141.16 per resident. Ten states were higher.
Click here for the full story and interactive visualization.
From Pachyderm: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates
.From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates. These are Republican candidates appearing on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot. This was recorded on August 24, 2018.

Candidates were, in order of initial appearance:
  • Blake Carpenter, 81st District
  • Emil Bergquist, 91st District
  • Leo Delperdang, 94th District
  • Ron Howard, 98th District
Click here for the full story and audio recording.
Wichita being sued, alleging improper handling of bond repayment savings
A lawsuit claims that when the City of Wichita refinanced its special assessment bonds, it should have passed on the savings to the affected taxpayers, and it did not do that.
Click here for the full story.
WichitaLiberty.TV: Sedgwick County and Wichita issues
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: The end of a Sedgwick County Commission election, the Wichita Eagle editorializes on school spending and more taxes, and Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell seems misinformed on the Wichita economy. View here. Episode 207, broadcast August 26, 2018.
Wichita Eagle calls for a responsible plan for higher taxes
A Wichita Eagle editorial argues for higher property taxes to help the city grow.
Click here for the full story.
Business improvement district proposed in Wichita
The Douglas Design District proposes to transform from a voluntary business organization to a tax-funded branch of government (but doesn't say so).
Click here for the full story.
Sedgwick County jobs, first quarter 2018
Data released this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an improving labor picture in Sedgwick County, but one growing at one-fifth the rate of the nation.

For the first quarter of 2018 there were 12,500 establishments in Sedgwick County employing 247,800 workers. That is an increase in jobs of 0.3 percent from the same time the previous year, a rate which ranked 293 among the nation's 350 largest counties. For the same period, the national job growth rate was 1.6 percent.
Click here for the full story.
Wichita Eagle argues for higher taxes
The Wichita Eagle editorial board wants higher taxes. Relying on its data and arguments will lead citizens to misinformed and uninformed opinions.
Click here for the full story.
Wichita school spending, according to the Wichita Eagle
A recent editorial by the largest newspaper in Kansas misinforms its readers. Opinions may vary on spending more or less on schools. But our state's largest newspaper isn't giving its readers the information they need to form an informed opinion.
Click here for the full story.
Ranked-choice voting in Kansas
A look at ranked-choice voting and how it might have worked in the Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary election in August 2018.
Click here for the full story.
2018 Public Education Factbook
From Kansas Policy Institute: An interactive visualization of spending by Kansas school districts.We compiled this Fact Book because scientific surveys show that citizens are largely misinformed on many pertinent facts of public education in Kansas. Aid and spending per-pupil are much higher than many Kansans believe, and student achievement is lower than understood.

Click here for the full story.
Visualization: Kansas school spending by district
An interactive visualization of spending by Kansas school districts.
Click here for the full story.
The Wichita Mayor on employment
On a televised call-in show, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell is proud of the performance of the city in growing jobs.
Click here for the full story.
An endorsement from the Wichita Chamber of Commerce
When the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee endorses a candidate, consider what that means.
Click here for the full story.
Kansas GDP growth slows
In the first quarter of 2018, the Kansas economy grew at the annual rate of 0.5 percent in real terms, slowing from the previous quarter.
Click here for the full story.
VIDEO: Kansas candidate briefings
Recently Kansas Policy Institute, along with Americans for Prosperity and Kansas Chamber of Commerce, held a series of briefings for candidates for the Kansas Legislature. The presentations in Wichita were recorded, and are available here:

Click here for the full story. 
Kansas government employees
Kansas has a lot of government employees when compared to other states, and especially so in education.

Click here for the full story and interactive visualization.
Kansas tax collections
If Kansas government doesn't have enough money to meet spending requests, it's not for the lack of collecting taxes.

Wichita and Midwest income
How much do Wichitans earn at their jobs, compared to other cities?

This data is of interest as recently James Chung told an audience that "average income" is $10,000 higher in Midwest comparable cities than in Wichita. He didn't define the term "income," he didn't define the comparable cities, and he didn't provide any sources of data. But mention of this is a good time to look at income in Wichita and other cities.

Click here for the full story. 
Airport traffic statistics, 2017
Airport traffic data presented in an interactive visualization, updated through 2017. A few observations regarding Wichita airport traffic as compared to the nation:
  • Since 2014, passenger traffic at the Wichita airport is slightly higher, while rising sharply for the nation.
  • The number of departures has been declining in Wichita, while level and now increasing for the nation.
  • The number of available seats on departing flights from Wichita has been mostly level, while rising sharply for the nation.
To view and use the interactive visualization, click here .

Sedgwick County jobs
Sedgwick County had fewer jobs in 2017 than in 2016.

From December 2016 to December 2017 Sedgwick County employment was level, changing by 0.0 percent. According to the BLS news release, that ranked 317 of the 347 largest counties.

Using the monthly average job count, Sedgwick County had 248,772 (monthly average) jobs in 2016. For 2017 that fell to 247,022, a decline of 1,750 jobs or 0.7 percent.

As can be seen in the chart of change in job levels, 2017 continues a trend of slower job growth in Sedgwick County, with the growth trend turning negative.

Click here for the full story. 

Downtown Wichita business trends
There has been much public and private investment in Downtown Wichita. What has been the trend in business activity during this time?

Click here for the full story. 
Wichita property tax still high on commercial property
An ongoing study reports that property taxes on commercial and industrial property in Wichita are high. In particular, taxes on commercial property in Wichita are among the highest in the nation.

Click here for the full story. 
Wichita in 'Best Cities for Jobs 2018'
Wichita continues to decline in economic vitality, compared to other areas.

NewGeography.com is a joint venture of Joel Kotkin and Praxis Strategy Group. Its annual "Best Cities for Jobs" project ranks metropolitan areas according to growth in employment.

Of 422 metropolitan areas considered, Wichita ranked 383, dropping 28 spots since the previous year.

Among 100 medium size metropolitan areas, Wichita ranked 93, dropping 5 spots from the previous year.

Click here for the full story. 
Lawrence has it. Wichita doesn't.
Despite promises, Wichita fails to inform citizens on important activities of its government.

Click here for the full story. 
Wichita metropolitan area population in context
Several Wichita city officials have noted that the population of the City of Wichita now exceeds that of Cleveland. This, to them, is a point of pride and sign of momentum in Wichita.

Click here for the full story. 
How much will this cost Wichita taxpayers?
How much, if anything, do tax abatements cost?

Click here for the full story. 
State government tax collections
An interactive visualization of tax collections by state governments.

Click here for the full story. 

Liquor tax and the NCAA basketball tournament in Wichita
Liquor enforcement tax collections provide insight into the economic impact of hosting NCAA basketball tournament games in Wichita.

Click here for the full story. 
Effect of NCAA basketball tournament on Wichita hotel tax revenues
Hotel tax collections provide an indication of the economic impact of hosting a major basketball tournament.

Click here for the full story. 
Business patterns in Kansas counties
Census data shows that some counties in Kansas are growing faster than others. In the chart, we can see that some Kansas counties are doing better than others. Notably, Sedgwick County shows a decline in employees and payroll in 2016.

Click here for the full story. 

WichitaLiberty.TV: United States Senator Dr. Tom Coburn
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: United States Senator Dr. Tom Coburn wrote the foreword to the book "What Was Really the Matter with the Kansas Tax Plan -- The Undoing of a Good Idea." He's here to tell us what went wrong, and what we need to do. View here. Episode 193, broadcast April 21, 2018.

NAEP results for 2017 available in interactive visualizations
When properly considered, Kansas often underperforms the nation in the most recent assessment of "The Nation's Report Card."

Click here for the full story. 

Intrust Bank Arena loss for 2017 is $4,222,182
As in years past, a truthful accounting of the finances of Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita shows a large loss.

Click here for the full story. 
Project Wichita, remember Visioneering Wichita
As Project Wichita gets ready to gather information and set goals, let's be aware that we've done this before, and not long ago.

Click here for the full story. 
Wichita property tax rate: Down
The City of Wichita property tax mill levy declined for the second year in a row.

Click here for the full story. 
Naftzger Park private use plans unsettled
An important detail regarding Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita is unsettled, and Wichitans have reason to be wary. 

Excerpt: Recently I asked the city if this master calendar had been created, or if there was a framework for determining how many private events can be held. According to the city, decisions are ongoing, and "According to Park & Recreation officials, what can be shared now is that the City will create and maintain a master calendar of events and programming. The developer will share in the programming responsibility and host several events throughout the year. Collaborating will ensure that the park is programmed well and active." Wichitans should not take comfort in learning this. 

Click here for the full story. 
Employment in metropolitan areas
An interactive visualization of labor force, employment, and unemployment rate for all metropolitan areas in the United States.

The example from the visualization shown below shows the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area and All Metro Areas. Data is through January 2018. Of note regarding Wichita:
  • Since the Great Recession ended, the unemployment rate in Wichita has fallen, as it has nationwide.
  • At the same time, employment (the number of people working) in Wichita, has been steady or rising slightly. Nationwide, employment has been growing.
  • At the same time, the civilian labor force in Wichita has been mostly falling, while rising nationwide. 
Click here for the full story. 
Sedgwick County's David Dennis on economic development
Following the Wichita Mayor, the Chair of the Sedgwick County Commission speaks on economic development.

Click here for the full story. 

Mayor Longwell's pep talk
A column written by Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell ignores the reality of Wichita's economy.

Excerpt: I sincerely hope the mayor is not aware of the poor performance of the Wichita-area economy. Because if he is aware, and he promises to "continue our growth pattern," we're in for continued trouble. Did you know that the Wichita-area economy shrank from 2015 to 2016? That is, we produced fewer goods and services in 2016 than in 2015, after accounting for inflation. Is this the growth pattern the mayor promises to continue?

Click here for the full story. 
Kansas government data may not be available
There is a movement to increase the transparency of government in Kansas, but there's much to be done, starting with attitudes.

Click here for the full story. 
Growing the Wichita economy
Wichita leaders are proud of our region's economic growth. Here are the numbers.

Click here for the full story. 
WichitaLiberty.TV: What Was Really the Matter with the Kansas Tax Plan
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Dave Trabert of Kansas Policy Institute joins Bob and Karl to discuss his new book What Was Really the Matter with the Kansas Tax Plan -- The Undoing of a Good Idea. View here. Episode 186, broadcast March 3, 2018.
Metro Monitor evaluates the Wichita economy
Metro Monitor from Brookings Institution ranks metropolitan areas on economic performance. How does Wichita fare?

Click here for the full story. 
PEAK benefits across Kansas
The use of PEAK, a Kansas economic development incentive program, varies widely among counties. 
Click here for the full story.
Cost per visitor to Wichita cultural attractions
Wichitans might be surprised to learn the cost of cultural attractions. The price of adult admission to the Wichita Art Museum is $7.00, or free on Saturdays thanks to the generosity of Colby Sandlian, a Wichita businessman.

But the cost of admission is much higher. For 2016, Wichita city documents report a cost per visitor of $54.71
Click here for the full story.
Wichita WaterWalk contract not followed, again
Wichita city hall failed to uphold the terms of a development agreement from five years ago, not monitoring contracts that protect the public interest.

Beyond this, we now know that neither the city nor the WaterWalk developer followed the terms of the deal. The annual reports were not supplied by the company, and they were not requested by the city. As it turns out the annual reports purport to show that the city was owed no money under the profit sharing agreement.

But that's not the point. The issue is that the city did not enforce a simple aspect of the agreement, and the private-sector company felt it did not need to comply. Taxpayers were not protected, and we're left wondering whether these agreements were really meant to be followed.
Click here for the full story.
Downtown Wichita jobs, sort of
The claim of 26,000 workers in downtown Wichita is based on misuse of data so blatant it can be described only as malpractice. 
Click here for the full story.
Accountability in Kansas public schools
Critics of school choice say there is no accountability outside the traditional public schools. Here are the standards Kansas used to hold its schools accountable.
Click here for the full story.