Voice For Liberty
Individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas.
The Voice for Liberty is at wichitaliberty.org. Also on Facebook
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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.
-- Thomas Jefferson

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

When action is divorced from consequences, no one is happy with the ultimate outcome. If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in it, each person has an incentive to be a free rider, to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will be taken by someone else. Soon, the pot is empty and will not be refilled -- a bad situation even for the earlier takers.
-- John Stossel

You can’t shame or humiliate modern celebrities. What used to be called shame and humiliation is now called publicity.
-- P.J. O'Rourke
King of Freight move a step sideways
A Wichita firm plans to move its offices to what was billed as the city’s premier entertainment district. Click for more.
Kansas jobs, April 2019
Employment in Kansas continues to grow in April 2019, but continues a trend of slower growth than the nation. The labor force is smaller. Click for more.
Wichita personal income growing, but slowly
Among the nation’s 383 metropolitan areas, Wichita ranked 347th for personal income growth. Click for more.
Kansas personal income growing, but slowly
For 2017, just four states had less growth in personal income than Kansas. Click for more.
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Kansas Taxpayers Left With $1.4 Billion Deficit Despite Governor's Veto
A new profile prepared by the Kansas Legislative Research Department (KLRD) shows the state budget creates a $1.4 billion deficit over the next four years. This happens regardless of Governor Kelly’s veto of the tax windfall bill. From Kansas Policy Institute. Click for more.
Advocates admit Medicaid expansion won’t save rural hospitals
Pressed to consider the facts with emotion removed, even some strong advocates admit Medicaid expansion won’t save rural hospitals. And that includes expansion’s leading advocate – Governor Laura Kelly. From The Sentinel. Click for more.
An Update from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt
Derek Schmidt, the Kansas Attorney General, talked about recent and upcoming litigation his office is involved in during a luncheon at the Wichita Pachyderm Club May 17, 2019. Cases mentioned include a recent abortion ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court and three pending cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Click for video.
Wichita public schools, by the charts
The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for USD 259, the Wichita public school district, provides a look at trends over the years. Here are some highlights from the CAFR for the year ending June 30, 2018, known as fiscal year 2018. Click for more.
The finances of Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita
A truthful accounting of the finances of Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita shows a large loss. Despite hosting the NCAA basketball tournament, the arena’s “net income” fell. Click for more.
School district lawyers say $1 billion isn’t enough to resolve Gannon suit
Legislators just increased school funding another $90 million per year, bringing the total being phased in through the 2023 school year to a little over $1 billion in new state aid, but school lawyers say that’s still not enough. From The Sentinel. Click for more.
KPI releases 2019 Green Book
Each year in the Green Book, Kansas Policy Institute explores the relationship between economic growth and the size of government. From Kansas Policy Institute. Click for more.
Kansas budget to jump 9 percent next year
Legislators just increased the Kansas budget by almost 9 percent next year but you wouldn’t know it from reading mainstream media reports. The conference committee report prepared by Kansas Legislative Research shows general fund spending will increase from $7.1 billion to $7.7 billion next year; that’s an 8.8 percent increase on top of a 7.1 percent increase this year. From The Sentinel. Click for more.
More Wichita planning on tap
We should be wary of government planning in general. But when those who have been managing and planning the foundering Wichita-area economy want to step up their management of resources, we risk compounding our problems. Click for more.
Updated: Gross domestic product by state and industry
An interactive visualization of GDP by state and industry, updated with annual data through 2018.

As shown in the accompanying illustration, Kansas has not kept up with most surrounding states. Click for more.
State of the City, Wichita: Employment strength
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell’s State of the City video relies on flimsy evidence and plucks scant good news from a sea of bad. This is a problem. “Recession-proof” glosses over recent years of declining production. “Historically low” unemployment rates ignore a stagnant and declining labor force. “An across-the-board increase in overall jobs this year” doesn’t contextualize that the forecast rate of growth for Wichita is anemic compared to the nation. Click for more.
Kansas GDP
In the fourth quarter of 2018, the Kansas economy grew at the annual rate of 0.9 percent, down from 1.2 percent the previous quarter. Over the last eight quarters, Kansas has averaged quarterly growth rates of 0.5 percent in annual terms. For the nation, the rate was 2.7 percent. For the Plains states, it was 1.5 percent. Click for more.
Wichita jobs and employment, March 2019
For the Wichita metropolitan area in March 2019, jobs are up, the labor force is up, and the unemployment rate is unchanged when compared to the same month one year ago. Seasonal data shows a small decline in jobs from February. Click for more.
State of the City, Wichita: The bright future
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell’s State of the City video doesn’t seem to be based on reality. Click for more.
After Record Tax Increases, Kansans’ Happiness Suffers
The latest snapshot of the Kansas economy isn’t a good one for Kansans. Its private sector is ranked as the 31st fastest growth in the nation for 2018. For the last quarter in 2018, Kansas’s private sector was the 42nd fastest. As a result, economic opportunities elsewhere continue to flourish at the expense of Kansas opportunities. We can understand how constant tax increases can slow growth & hamper Kansans’ financial prospects. However, do we realize it might also affect their happiness? From Kansas Policy Institute. Click for more.
Wichita population falls; outmigration continues
The population of the Wichita MSA fell from 2017 to 2018, and net domestic migration continues at a high level. Click for more.
Arizona-like law could reduce occupational licensing hurdles in KS
Arizona became the first state in the nation to recognize occupational licenses from other states. But Arizona’s new license portability law probably won’t be a strategy next year in the Sunflower State, according to Elizabeth Patton, Grassroots Director at Americans for Prosperity-Kansas. From The Sentinel. Click for more.
Wichita aerospace manufacturing concentration
Wichita leaders want to diversify the area economy. Has there been progress? Click for more.
New county data underscores struggling Kansas economy
Prototype county-level Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows deep pockets of concern for the Kansas economy. From Kansas Policy Institute. Click for more.
KCUR report misleads on school funding
Public radio station KCUR published a story suggesting a Kansas school district can’t fund basic building maintenance, but they left the real school funding story on the cutting room floor while misleading listeners. From The Sentinel. Click for more.
The History and Importance of the 2nd Amendment
Dr. Eric Sands, Associate Professor of Government at Berry College, spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club April 26, 2019, on “The History and Importance of the 2nd Amendment." Click for video.
From Pachyderm: Majority Leader Dan Hawkins
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Majority Leader Dan Hawkins. Representative Leo Delperdang provided the introduction. This was recorded on April 21, 2019. Click here for the audio recording.
Updated: Employment in the States
An interactive visualization of the civilian labor force, employment, and unemployment, for each state. Updated through March 2019.

As seen in the nearby example, Kansas continues its undistinguished record in job growth as compared to nearby states. In the visualization, you can easily choose states to compare, select a timeframe, and look at labor force, employment, and unemployment. Click for more.
Our Sedgwick County Criminal Justice System
Mark Bennett, District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District of Kansas; Jeff Easter, Sedgwick County Sheriff; and Jim Howell, Sedgwick County Commissioner, discussed criminal justice in Sedgwick County during a luncheon of the Wichita Pachyderm Club April 12, 2019. The presentation, “Our Criminal Justice System: Is the system broken, are changes needed, do we have the will for reform, and how do we develop a plan to move forward with Criminal Justice Reform?," included a question and answer period. Click for video.
Kansas personal income
For 2018, the rate of personal income growth in Kansas was near the bottom of the states, although the fourth quarter was much better. Click for more.
The Accidental, Absent Superpower
F. Tim Witsman, Ph.D., spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club March 15, 2017, on the topic, The Accidental Superpower, The Absent Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder, an adaptation of a presentation by geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan. Witsman, now retired, holds advanced degrees in political science and has served in various government and private leadership roles. Click for video.
Pay no attention to the Ferris wheel on the riverbank
When the City of Wichita shows architectural renderings, are we to treat them as promises, or as someone’s unrealizable dream? Click for more.
The Kansas Corporation Commission: Its regulatory purview and perspectives on current issues
Dwight D. Keen, chairman of the Kansas Corporation Commission, addressed a luncheon of the Wichita Pachyderm Club March 1, 2019, on the topic, "The KCC: Its regulatory purview and perspectives on current issues." Click for video.
In Wichita, we don’t know who we’re dealing with
Wichita takes a big risk entering in a public-private partnership without knowing its partners. Click for more.
Updated: Kansas hotel guest tax collections
Kansas hotel guest tax collections presented in an interactive visualization. Click for more.
Updated: Metro area employment and unemployment
An interactive visualization of labor force, employment, and unemployment rate for all metropolitan areas in the United States. Updated with data through January 2019. Click for more.
2018 A-F Grading of Kansas Schools Released
One year ago, Kansas Policy Institute unveiled the initial groundbreaking A-F grading system for Kansas public schools and released the 2018 grade card last week. KPI undertook that effort to create a reporting system so that parents could more easily understand exactly how schools are performing. The Kansas Department of Education (KSDE), like all state education departments across the country, publishes a “Report Card” on its website, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to synthesize all that information to determine overall performance of individual schools. From Kansas Policy Institute. Click for more.
Effectiveness of incentives called into question
Incentives, also called taxpayer-funded subsidies, are ubiquitous in state and local government economic development efforts. The majority of incentives given to firms to relocate or expand a business typically take the form of cash grants, tax breaks, subsidized borrowing and firm-specific infrastructure projects such as a new building. Kansas is no different. From The Sentinel. Click for more.
Wichita considers a new stadium
The City of Wichita plans subsidized development of a sports facility as an economic driver. Originally published in July 2017. Click for more.
Wichita and national jobs
Overall, since 2011 — roughly the end of the Great Recession — Wichita has been gaining jobs, evidence being its trend line above zero in the nearby chart which shows the change in jobs over the same month one year ago. But the line has not always been above zero, indicating months where the Wichita metropolitan area had fewer jobs than the year before. Click for more.
Wichita city protections for ballpark land development
The City of Wichita says it has safeguards built in to the proposed baseball park land development deal. We need safeguards. The city is borrowing to pay for the project, and the city expects to collect a lot of money from surrounding development, necessary to pay off the borrowed money. Click for more.
Wichita ballpark land deal: John Todd
In this short video, John Todd tells us why the city is not acting in the best interest of citizens regarding the land development deal near the new Wichita ballpark.  Click for more.
Wichita vets its baseball partner(s)
The City of Wichita tells us it has thoroughly vetted the majority owner of the new Wichita baseball team. Click for more.
Wichita baseball team travel agreement not known
Part of the agreement with the new Wichita baseball team is, apparently, unknown. Click for more.
Did Wichita forget the interest?
In a presentation, Wichita economic development officials ignore the cost of borrowing money. Click for more.
In Wichita, respecting the people’s right to know
The City of Wichita says it values open and transparent government. But the city’s record in providing information and records to citizens is poor, and there hasn’t been much improvement. Click for more.
Wichita, not that different
We have a lot of neat stuff in Wichita. Other cities do, too. Click for more.
Wichita legal notices could be more accessible
Kansas law requires publication of certain notices in newspapers, but cities like Wichita could also make them available in other ways that are easier to use. Click for more.
Wichita ballpark STAR bonds, 2018 issue
A bond disclosure document anticipated a development agreement for land surrounding the new Wichita ballpark. Click for more.
Update: Wichita city sales tax not passed
There was no successful Wichita city sales tax election. City documents were mistaken, which raises more issues. Click for more.
In Wichita, no tenant poaching, unless waived
The city of Wichita has included anti-poaching clauses in development agreements to protect non-subsidized landlords, but the agreements are without teeth. Click for more.
Coverage of Wichita baseball owner Lou Schwechheimer
Press coverage of new Wichita baseball team majority owner Lou Schwechheimer. Click for more.
Kansas GDP
In the third quarter of 2018, the Kansas economy grew at the annual rate of 2.3 percent, down from 4.7 percent the previous quarter. Click for more.
Sedgwick County job growth exceeds national rate
In the third quarter of 2018, Sedgwick County quarterly job growth exceeded the national rate for the first time in nearly ten years. Click for more.
Is the Wichita mayor satisfied with this?
A gloomy jobs forecast is greeted with apparent approval by Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell. Click for more.
Sedgwick County Commission needs to slow down, get things right
Sedgwick County needs to make sure past issues are known and settled before proceeding with hiring a new county manager, writes former commissioner Richard Ranzau. Click for more.
Another Wichita survey, another set of problems
The Wichita Eagle editorial board notices problems with a survey gathering feedback on Century II. Click for more.
Wichita mayor promotes inaccurate picture of local economy
Wichita city leaders will latch onto any good news, no matter from how flimsy the source. But they ignore the news they don’t like, even though it may come from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Click for more.
Wichita, a recession-proof city
Wichita city officials promote an article that presents an unrealistic portrayal of the local economy. Click for more.
Job growth in Wichita: Great news?
A tweet from a top Wichita city official promotes great news that really isn’t so great. There is good news — Wichita is not forecast to lose jobs, as it has in the recent past. But the rate of growth seen for Wichita is not robust, and that’s a serious problem, especially when our officials think it’s good. Click for more.
Wichita migration not improving
Data from the United States Census Bureau shows that the Wichita metropolitan area has lost many people to domestic migration, and the situation is not improving. Click for more.
In Wichita, a gentle clawback
Despite the mayor’s bluster, the city failed to enforce the agreement it made to protect taxpayers. Instead, the company receives $153,000 in free taxes that it didn’t deserve, along with an interest-free loan of $100,000 amortized over four years. Click for more.
Wichita employment to grow in 2019
The forecast for Wichita metro area employment in 2019 calls for modest growth of 0.9 percent, according to the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University. This follows growth of 0.8 percent in 2018. Click for more.
Personal income in Wichita rises, but slowly
For 2017, personal income in Wichita rose, but slower than the national rate. For all metropolitan areas in the United States, personal income rose by 4.5 percent. For the Wichita metro area, the increase was 2.3 percent. Of 383 metropolitan areas, Wichita’s growth rate was at position 342. Click for more.
Sedgwick County tax exemptions
Unlike the City of Wichita, Sedgwick County has kept track of its tax exemptions. Click for more.
Efficiencies in Sedgwick County government
A document that hasn’t been made public details savings achieved in Sedgwick County over a recent period of nearly three years. Click for more.
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? Click for more.
Sedgwick County income and poverty
Census data show Sedgwick County continuing to fall behind the nation in two key measures. Click for more.
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 for more.
Project Wichita survey
The Project Wichita survey is about to end. Will it have collected useful data? Click for more.
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 for more.
Wichita and Midwest income
How much do Wichitans earn at their jobs, compared to other cities? Click for more.
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 for more.
Wichita metropolitan area population in context
The growth of population in Wichita compared to other areas. Click for more.
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 for more.
Wichita economy shrinks, and a revision
Statistics released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, show gross domestic product (GDP) figures for metropolitan areas. Also included are revised statistics for previous years.

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 for more.
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 for more.
Kansas highway pavement conditions
Each year the Kansas Department of Transportation surveys the condition of highway pavement and issues a report called the Network Optimization System (NOS) Survey.

Of the condition of highways, the report notes: “Since the data was first collected in 1983, the percentage of pavement surface in good condition has appreciably increased while the percentage of poor pavement has significantly decreased.”. Click for more.
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. Click for more.
GDP by metropolitan area and component
The Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, gathers data about economic output, known as gross domestic product. The visualization presented here presents this data in tabular and graphic form. Click for more.
State government employees in Kansas
Kansas has more state government employees per resident than most states, and the trend is rising. Two things are evident: The level of employment in Kansas is generally higher than the other states, and the trend in Kansas is rising when many states are level or declining. This data counters the story often told, which is that state government employment has been slashed. Click for more.
Kansas state and local taxes
Among nearby states, Kansas collects a lot of taxes, on a per-resident basis.

From the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2018, Kansas and its local governmental units collected an average of $681 per quarter per resident in taxes. Of nearby states and a few others, Arkansas and Iowa had higher values, and Iowa is higher by only one percent. Click for more.