Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday September 12, 2011

TIF not good for everyone, it seems. One of the criticisms of tax increment financing (TIF) is that it diverts tax revenue away from the general operations of government and into the hands of private concerns. Supporters of TIF deny this, using a variety of arguments. But as always, actions speak louder than words. In this case, examination of city documents finds that the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, which is funded by a special property tax district, is exempt from the TIF district. (Actually, it’s the SSMID that’s exempt, but the only reason the SSMID exists, and the only thing it spends its tax revenue on, is the WDDC.) In other words, the city is willing to use TIF to divert money from police, fire, and schools, but not from the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation.

Wichita City Council. The Wichita City Council in its Tuesday meeting considers these items: The largest item is the Douglas Place project, a downtown Wichita hotel being considered for many layers of taxpayer subsidy. … The council will also have a public hearing on water rates, described as “Citizen input will assist in determining whether the enhanced revenue should come from across-the-board increases or if the current imbalance should be gradually phased out, beginning with cost-based rate structure changes in 2012.” No rate changes will be contemplated at this meeting. … The council will also consider changes to regulations involving slab-on-grade construction standards for one and two family dwellings. There have been high-profile news stories about the failure of some such homes’ foundations. … The council will consider approval of a grant for a Regional Air Quality Improvement Program. … As always, the agenda packet — all 691 pages for this week’s meeting — is available at Wichita city council agendas.

Williams lecture not noticed. Last Thursday about 650 people attended a lecture by an economist in Wichita, and traditional news media didn’t notice. Fortunately there are other sources: Williams: Constitutional Principles the Source of Fairness and Justice (complete video included in this story), Walter Williams: Government must stick to its limited and legitimate role, and Walter Williams on doing good.

Energy and politics to be topic. This week’s meeting (September 19th) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Merrill Eisenhower Atwater, President of Fox Fuels, speaking on “Infrastructure, energy, and politics.” Atwater is great grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club … Upcoming speakers: On September 23, Dave Trabert, President of Kansas Policy Institute, speaking on the topic “Why Not Kansas: Getting every student an effective education.” … On September 30, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita on “An update from Washington.” … On October 7, John Locke — reincarnated through the miracle of modern technology — speaking on “Life, Liberty, and Property.” … On October 14, Sedgwick County Commission Members Richard Ranzau and James Skelton, speaking on “What its like to be a new member of the Sedgwick County Board of County commissioners?” … On October 21, N. Trip Shawver, Attorney/Mediator, on “The magic of mediation, its uses and benefits.”

Pompeo on ideological internships. Have you heard of a government program called Environmental Justice (EJ) eco-Ambassadors? U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita has. According to a press release from his office, the application process is tilted along ideological lines: “The requirements outlined the EPA’s stated desire to recruit and hire, at taxpayer expense, only those college students who are ideologically in line with the Obama Administration’s radical environmental policies.” He has introduced legislation to prevent “any paid internships or other student recruitment programs that discriminate based on ideology or policy viewpoint.” Said Pompeo: “At a time when millions of Americans cannot find work and are saddled with record deficits and crippling environmental regulations, spending $6,000 of taxpayer money per student to act as tools of this Administration’s radical policies is clearly not acceptable — nor is it ever the role of the federal government to indoctrinate.” … The legislation Pompeo introduced is H.R. 2876: To prevent discrimination on the basis of political beliefs by the Environmental Protection Agency in its student programs.

Spending to create jobs. Burton Folsom: “How are jobs created? In the last hundred years, the U.S. has seen tens of millions of jobs created by entrepreneurs like Henry Ford, who put a car in every garage, Willis Carrier, who gave us air conditioning, and Chester Carlson, who invented and marketed the Xerox machine. These men created products people wanted to use, and therefore millions of jobs came into existence to hire people to make those products as cheaply as possible. How do we encourage people like Henry Ford, Willis Carrier, and Chester Carlson to take the risks that might create those jobs? We do that by limiting government, protecting property rights, and allowing entrepreneurs to keep most of what they earn. In other words, do not overregulate, do not overtax, and do not allow the federal government to create instability by intrusive meddling. … Thus, we have President Obama, a disciple of FDR and John Maynard Keynes, frustrated because his stimulus package failed, his bailout of General Motors failed, and his cash for clunkers failed. His Obamacare overhaul is also in the process of failing. Alas, the U.S. has a stagnant economy and is mired in more than 9 percent unemployment. What to do? Why, more stimulus spending, of course! Only it will now be labeled ‘investment’ — along with more targeted spending for green jobs and more small targeted tax cuts.” More at The Sad Story of Presidents Who Think They Can Spend to Create Jobs.

Kansas education summit. On Thursday September 15th, Kansas Policy Institute is holding a summit on education in Kansas. In its announcement, KPI writes: “Kansas can expand educational opportunities for students in need — even in our current economic climate. Join a “Who’s Who” of the nation’s education reformers in a discussion on how Kansas can give every student an effective education. … Invited participants include Gov. Sam Brownback, the Kansas Department of Education, Kansas National Education Association, Kansas Association of School Boards, state legislators, and other public education stakeholders.” … KPI notes that we increased total aid to Kansas public schools by $1.2 billion between 2005 and 2011, that 25 percent of Kansas students are unable to read at grade level. The event will be held at the Holiday Inn & Suites, Overland Park West. The cost is $35, which includes breakfast and lunch for the all-day event. … RSVPs are requested. For more information, click on Kansas Policy Institute Education Summit.

Why should liberals like libertarian ideas? Last week we saw Dr. Stephen Davies explain why conservatives should consider libertarian ideas. Today, he explains why liberals, or progressives, should also consider libertarian ideas. The video is from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies.


One thought on “Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday September 12, 2011”

  1. TIF money can only be used for eligible expenses as defined in the state statutes. Funding the activities of a SSMID district isn’t an eligible expense.

    SSMID districts are a separate entity that can be created as allowed by the state statutes, similar to a drainage district or rural water district.

    At best, it’s a dis-service when factual information isn’t correctly conveyed. At worst, it’s just dishonest.

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