Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday May 31, 2011

Pachyderm to feature DA Foulston. This Friday (June 3) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Nola Tedesco Foulston, District Attorney for the Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas, whose boundaries are coincident with Sedgwick County. Foulston’s topic will be “An office overview and current events at the Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas District Attorney’s office.” Foulston, a Democrat, was elected to her office in 1988 and has served continuously since then. … Appearances by speakers other than Republicans at Pachyderm often generate controversy, and this week is no exception. Pachyderm is a Republican club, and the mission statement of the national organization reads: “Promote active citizen involvement and education in government and politics through the formation and support of grassroots, Republican clubs across America.” Some feel that an appearance at Pachyderm will bolster Foulston’s re-election prospects, should she decide to run again next year. Others believe that no Democrat should be be a speaker — ever. In my opinion, the sentiment of the Pachyderm board and of many of the club’s regular attendees is that while Pachyderm is indeed Republican and conservative, the club’s mission of political education and civic engagement allows — in fact, encourages — appearances by prominent officeholders of any political party. In any county, the District Attorney is a powerful force in local government, with broad discretion as to the prosecution of criminal cases. This is a speaker that the members of Pachyderm should be encouraged to hear, even though members may not agree with her politics. …. Foulston will likely face several tough questions from the usually spirited Pachyderm audience. … Upcoming speakers: On June 10, John Allison, Superintendent of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, on “An update from USD 259.” On June 17, The Honorable Lawton R. Nuss, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice on “The State of the Kansas Courts.” On June 24, Jim Mason, Naturalist at the Great Plains Nature Center will have a presentation and book signing. Mason is author of Wichita’s Riverside Parks, published in April 2011. On July 1, Jay M. Price, Director of the Public History Program at Wichita State University, speaking on “Classes of Values in Kansas History.” On July 8, Dave Trabert, President, Kansas Policy Institute, on “Stabilizing the Kansas Budget.”

Sedgwick County Commission. In its Wednesday meeting, the Sedgwick County Commission will consider making two forgivable loans for the purposes of economic development. These loans have become popular with economic development officials, and often the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County make loans of equal amount to the same company. … The program works by loaning the company an amount of money, with the entire amount paid out at once. Then, if performance goals are met over a period of time, the loan (and interest) is forgiven. Otherwise, portions of it, with interest, may become due. Often the term of the loan is four or five years, with a portion of the loan forgiven each year if goals are met. The performance goals are usually the number of full-time or equivalent employees. … The Golf Warehouse in northeast Wichita is asking for a $48,000 forgivable loan. It recently received a loan of that amount from the City of Wichita. Mid-Continent Instrument, Inc. is asking for $10,000. … Usually economic development incentives are accompanied by a cost-benefit study performed by Wichita State University Center for Economic Development and Business Research. The county hasn’t supplied such analysis for these two items.

Kansas budget signed. On Saturday — a holiday weekend day — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed the budget bill. He used his line-item veto authority to strike an across-the-board reduction in spending, preferring to make targeted cuts instead. Although the governor had proposed ending funding for public broadcasting, the legislature included funding, and the governor did not veto it. … Most controversial of the governor’s handful of changes to the bill will be his veto of funding for the Kansas Arts Commission. This action was not a surprise, as recently the administration laid off all the commission’s employees. Associated Press reports that the chairman of the commission isn’t ruling out a lawsuit.

KPERS suit threatened. Changes made by the Kansas Legislature to Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS have caused state employee organizations to consider a lawsuit, according to Associated Press reporting. The changes made this year are mild compared to the changes that must be made if KPERS is ever to become self-sustaining. The threat of a lawsuit over these minor changes doesn’t foretell a future of cooperation from state employees in making the much larger reforms that must be made.

Stimulus jobs — or not. Malcolm Harris calls attention to an analysis of the job-creation performance of the 2009 stimulus bill. The working paper is titled The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Public Sector Jobs Saved, Private Sector Jobs Forestalled. Its goal, according to authors Timothy Conley and Bill Dupor, is to “understand the causal effect on employment of the government spending component of the ARRA.” The key finding is this: “Our benchmark point estimates suggest that the ARRA created/saved approximately 450 thousand state and local government jobs and destroyed/forestalled roughly one million private sector jobs.” That’s a net loss of jobs. … The authors note there is “appreciable estimation uncertainty” in the estimates. Still, they are able to conclude: “However, our estimates are precise enough to state that we find no evidence of large positive private-sector job effects.” … The report includes a section summarizing other researchers’ findings, which usually find that the stimulus program created or save many jobs. The studies that find large job creation usually rely on “fiscal policy multipliers,” a Keynesian economics concept.

Government doesn’t create jobs. Investor’s Business Daily relies partly on the Conley and Dupor paper in its editorial Government Doesn’t Create Jobs. IBD asks “In a joint op-ed with the British prime minister, President Obama admits that jobs are created by an innovative private sector. So why is he strangling ours with regulations, rules and taxes? We would hope it was a candid admission of the truth rather than just boilerplate rhetoric in an op-ed in the Times of London by President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. But there it was: ‘Governments do not create jobs; bold people and innovative businesses do.’” Continuing: “For once, the president is spot on. Businesses create jobs to fill a need, and their incentive is profit. Businesses invest; governments can only spend. Businesses create wealth, as do their employees. Government consumes wealth and sucks the economic oxygen out of the room. Its employees create paperwork and regulations that restrict economic growth.”


One thought on “Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday May 31, 2011”

  1. God forbid a differing opinion be spoken in the Wichita Republican echo chamber. From “loyalty courts” (yikes, by the way), to complaining about stuff like this, the Republican “Big Tent” is ever more a giant circus.

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