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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Follow me on Twitter at @bob_weeks.
Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.
-- Pericles

On the unhampered market there prevails an irresistible tendency to employ every factor of production for the best possible satisfaction of the most urgent needs of the consumers. If the government interferes with this process, it can only impair satisfaction; it can never improve it.
-- Ludwig von Mises

I don’t care who does the electing so long as I do the nominating.
-- William “Boss” Tweed, political boss of Tammany Hall

From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
-- Groucho Marx
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.
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.
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.
Wichita jobs and employment, February 2019
For the Wichita metropolitan area in February 2019, jobs are up, the labor force is up, and the unemployment rate is down when compared to the same month one year ago. Seasonal data shows a return to job growth. 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.
Kansas jobs, January 2019
Data released today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows a mostly improving jobs picture for Kansas in January 2019. 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.