Tag Archives: Kansas Economic Freedom Index

For McGinn, a liberal voting record is a tradition

Based on votes made in the Kansas Senate, the advertising claims of Sedgwick County Commission candidate Carolyn McGinn don’t match her record.

Kansas CapitolIn a radio advertisement, Carolyn McGinn says she is conservative. In a mailer, she touts her “fiscal conservative leadership” in the Kansas Senate.

But voting records don’t match these claims.

Several voting scorecards in recent years show Senator McGinn ranking low in terms of voting for economic freedom issues. These issues generally concern taxation, wasteful spending, and unnecessary regulation. In recent years, a freedom index has been produced by Kansas Policy Institute. In 2012 the Kansas Economic Freedom Index was a joint product of Americans for Prosperity-Kansas, Kansas Policy Institute, and myself. In 2010 I produced an index by myself. All tabulations show McGinn rarely voting in favor of economic freedom.

In the 2014 formulation, McGinn scored 25.8 percent. Four senators (Kansas has 40 senators) had lower scores. Some Wichita-area legislators that had higher scores than McGinn include Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau and Representatives Ponka-We Victors, Gail Finney, Jim Ward, Tom Sawyer, and Brandon Whipple. All these are Democrats, by the way, and they voted more in favor of economic freedom than did Carolyn McGinn.

In 2013, McGinn scored 40 percent. Eight senators had lower scores.

In 2012 the scores were calculated in a different manner. McGinn scored -6, with 16 senators scoring lower.

There was no index for 2011.

In 2010, on an index that I produced, McGinn scored seven percent. Three other senators had the same score, and one had a lower score.

At a recent forum, McGinn criticized the concept of a vote index, telling the audience: “The economic freedom index, I just find that interesting. Because it’s based on amendments after we’re out of session, so you can pick and choose what you want for who.”

She’s right, in a way. I don’t know what she meant by “amendments,” but the organizations that construct voting scorecards choose votes that they believe distinguish candidates along some axis. Usually the votes are chosen after they’re made, although sometimes organizations “key vote” an issue. That means they alert legislators in advance of a vote that the vote will be included on their scorecard.

There are organizations that are in favor of more spending, less accountability, and fewer choices for Kansas parents and schoolchildren. They produce scorecards, too. In particular, Kansas Association of School Boards found that McGinn never voted against their position from 2009 to 2012. Kansas National Education Association, while not making a scorecard public, recommended that its members vote for McGinn.

Kansas freedom scorecard released

To help Kansans understand how legislators vote, Kansas Policy Institute has produced the Kansas Freedom Index for 2013.

Legislative scorecards like this are important as they let citizens know how legislators have actually voted, which is sometimes different from their campaign rhetoric, and even different from their current proclamations. Generally, scorecards include a large sampling of votes, so that no single issue paints a member into a corner.

James Franko of Kansas Policy Institute joins Bob Weeks on the Joseph Ashby Show to discuss the Kansas Freedom Index. Then, Bob runs down the scores for Wichita-area legislators.

The Kansas Freedom Index, as produced by KPI this year, is important and significant because it focuses on issues of economic freedom along with education freedom, which was added this year. So far, 45 bills have been included in the scorecard, and as the legislature is still in session and has at least two important bills to pass, there may be additions to the scorecard.

This year’s index is a continuation of the construction of indexes for past years, many of which may be found at Kansas Economic Freedom Index.

In a press release KPI president Dave Trabert said “An informed citizenry is an essential element of maintaining a free society. Having a deeper understanding of how legislation impacts education freedom, economic freedom and the constitutional principles of individual liberty and limited government allows citizens to better understand the known and often unknown consequences of legislative issues.”

He added, “Our 2012 index made clear that support of economic freedom isn’t an issue of political affiliation — the highest and lowest score in the Senate were both held by Republicans. The 2013 results bear out the same as a wide range of scores exists within both parties. Too often votes come down to parochial or personal issues and the idea of freedom is left on the legislature’s cutting room floor. Hopefully, the Kansas Freedom Index can start to recalibrate citizens and legislators towards supporting the freedoms of everyday Kansans and not be driven by politics.”

The importance of economic freedom

Milton Friedman: Capitalism and Freedom

Why is economic freedom important? Here’s what Milton Friedman had to say in the opening chapter of his monumental work Capitalism and Freedom some 50 years ago:

The Relation between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom

It is widely believed that politics and economics are separate and largely unconnected; that individual freedom is a political problem and material welfare an economic problem; and that any kind of political arrangements can be combined with any kind of economic arrangements. The chief contemporary manifestation of this idea is the advocacy of “democratic socialism” by many who condemn out of hand the restrictions on individual freedom imposed by “totalitarian socialism” in Russia, and who are persuaded that it is possible for a country to adopt the essential features of Russian economic arrangements and yet to ensure individual freedom through political arrangements. The thesis of this chapter is that such a view is a delusion, that there is an intimate connection between economics and politics, that only certain arrangements are possible and that, in particular, a society which is socialist cannot also be democratic, in the sense of guaranteeing individual freedom.

Economic arrangements play a dual role in the promotion of a free society. On the one hand, freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. In the second place, economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.

For more about Friedman and his thoughts on economic freedom, see Milton Friedman, the Father of Economic Freedom.

Economic freedom is the most important factor in determining the well-being of people across the world. Where economic freedom exists, countries become wealthy. In introducing the Economic Freedom of the World report, its authors write: “Economic freedom has been shown in numerous peer-reviewed studies to promote prosperity and other positive outcomes. It is a necessary condition for democratic development. It liberates people from dependence on government in a planned economy, and allows them to make their own economic and political choices.”

One of the authors of the Economic Freedom of the World report, Robert Lawson, expands on the importance of economic freedom: “The big question is: Do countries that exhibit greater degrees of economic freedom perform better than those that do not? Much scholarly research has been and continues to be done to see if the index [of economic freedom] correlates with various measures of the good society: higher incomes, economic growth, income equality, gender equality, life expectancy, and so on. While there is scholarly debate about the exact nature of these relationships, the results are uniform: measures of economic freedom relate positively with these factors.

Developer welfare expanded in Kansas

Money Grabber

This week the Kansas House of Representatives considered a bill that would expand the application of tax increment financing (TIF) and community improvement district taxes. The bill, HB 2086, is not a major expansion, but is still harmful.

On Monday the bill failed to pass, with 61 members voting in favor, and 60 against. (63 votes are needed to pass a bill.)

On the following day, Rep. Scott Schwab made a motion to reconsider. If agreed to, Schwab’s motion would force another vote on the passage of the bill. The motion passed, and when the vote on the bill was tallied, it had passed with 81 votes.

Democrats who changed their votes from No to Yes are Barbara Ballard, Brandon Whipple, Ed Trimmer, Jerry Henry, Julie Menghini, Nancy Lusk, Patricia Sloop, Paul Davis, Stan Frownfelter, Tom Burroughs and Valdenia Winn.

Republicans who changed their votes from No to Yes are Dennis Hedke, James Todd, Kelly Meigs, Kevin Jones, Marty Read, Ramon Gonzalez, Scott Schwab, and Vern Swanson.

One Republican, Marc Rhoades, changed his vote from Yes to No.

The original coalition of votes that defeated the bill on Monday was a mix of free-market Republicans and Democrats. The free-market members vote against this bill because it is contrary to the principals of capitalism. Many Democrats vote against bills like this because they see it as welfare for greedy developers or other business interests. An example of the latter is Rep. Ed Trimmer, who on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for last year scored very near the bottom in terms of voting for economic freedom.

But somehow, he and the other Democrats listed above were persuaded to change their votes.

(Click here to open spreadsheet in new window.)

As lawmakers, Kansas judges should be selected democratically

Kansas Judicial Center in snowWhile many believe that judges should not “legislate from the bench,” that is, make law themselves, the reality is that lawmaking is a judicial function. In a democracy, lawmakers should be elected under the principle of “one person, one vote.” But Kansas, which uses the Missouri Plan for judicial selection to its two highest courts, violates this principle.

A recent paper by Kansas University School of Law Professor Stephen J. Ware explains the problem with the process used in Kansas. The paper is titled Originalism, Balanced Legal Realism and Judicial Selection: A Case Study and may be downloaded at no charge. The Kansas courts that use the judicial selection described in the paper are the Kansas Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court.

At issue is whether judges are simply arbitrators of the law, or do they actually participate in the lawmaking process. Ware explains: “This realist view that statutory interpretation often involves ‘substantial judicial discretion’ and therefore constitutes ‘judicial lawmaking, not lawfinding,’ had by the 1950s, ‘become deeply rooted.'”

A “‘balanced realism,’ to use Brian Tamanaha’s appealing label, recognizes both that judges’ policy preferences have little or no influence on many judicial decisions and that judges’ policy preferences have a significant influence on other judicial decisions. Empirical studies tend to support this balanced view.” In other words, there is some role for ideology in making judicial decisions. Politics, therefore, is involved. Ware quotes Charles Gardner Geyh: “In a post-realist age, the ideological orientation of judicial aspirants matters.” And the higher the court, the more this matters.

Since judges function as lawmakers, they ought to be selected by a democratic process. In the Kansas version of the Missouri Plan, a nominating commission dominated by lawyers selects three candidates to fill an opening on the Kansas Court of Appeals or Kansas Supreme Court. The governor then selects one of the three, and the process is over. A new judge is selected. This process gives members of the state’s bar tremendous power in selecting judges.

Ware presents eleven examples of judges on the two highest Kansas courts engaging in lawmaking. In one, a workers’ compensation case, the employee would lose his appeal if the “clear” precedent was followed. Justice Carol A. Beier wrote the opinion. Ware explains:

But this is not, in fact, what Justice Beier and her colleagues on the Kansas Supreme Court did. Rather they did what Kansas Judges Greene and Russell say never happens. Justice Beier and her colleagues engaged in lawmaking. They changed the legal rule from one contrary to their ideologies to one consistent with their ideologies.

Justice Beier’s opinion doing this started by criticizing the old rule, while acknowledging that it was, in fact, the rule prior to her opinion by which the Supreme Court made new law. Here again is the above quote from Coleman, but now with the formerly omitted words restored and italicized: “The rule is clear, if a bit decrepit and unpopular: An injury from horseplay does not arise out of employment and is not compensable unless the employer was aware of the activity or it had become a habit at the workplace.”

Who decided that this rule is “decrepit and unpopular” and so should be changed? Was it the Kansas Legislature? No, it was the Kansas Supreme Court. It was judges, not legislators, who decided that this legal rule was bad policy. It was judges, not legislators, who changed the law to bring it in line with what the lawmaking judges thought was good policy.

Beier wrote in her opinion: “We are clearly convinced here that our old rule should be abandoned. Although appropriate for the time in which it arose, we are persuaded by the overwhelming weight of contrary authority in our sister states and current legal commentary.”

The result: New Kansas law, made by people selected through an undemocratic process.

In conclusion, Ware writes:

Non-lawyers who believe in the principle that lawmakers should be selected democratically need to know that judicial selection is lawmaker selection to be troubled by the Missouri Plan’s violation of this principle. Non-lawyers who do not know that judges inevitably make law may believe that the role of a judge consists only of its professional/technical side and, therefore, believe that judges should be selected entirely on their professional competence and ethics and that assessments of these factors are best left to lawyers. In short, a lawyer who omits lawmaking from a published statement about the judicial role is furthering a misimpression that helps empower lawyers at the expense of non-lawyers, in violation of basic democratic equality, the principle of one-person, one-vote.

Prospects for Kansas

In Kansas, the process for selecting judges to the Kansas Court of Appeals is governed by statute, and can be changed by the legislature and governor. Last year the House of Representatives passed a bill to reform the process, but it was blocked by Senate Judiciary Chair Tim Owens. He said “I think this is the first time I did not hear a bill because I thought it was so bad. This is a terrible, terrible bill that’s hated by the courts; it’s an attempt to take over control of the courts.”

Owens, who ranked as the least friendly senator to economic freedom in the 2012 edition of the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, lost his bid for re-election in the August primary election. Many of the other moderate Republicans who voted against reform also lost their primary election contest.

Owens, it should be noted, is an attorney, and is therefore a member of the privileged class that has outsize power in selecting judges.

Sometimes legislators are simply uninformed or misinformed on judicial selection. An example is Jean Schodorf, who lost a re-election bid in August. In an interview, she was quoted as saying “We thwarted changes to judicial selection that would have allowed the governor to have the final say in all judicial selections.”

The bill that the senate voted on, and the one that Owens killed the year before, called for Court of Appeals judges to be appointed by the governor, with the consent of the senate. It’s actually the senate that has the final say.

Newspaper editorial writers across Kansas are mostly opposed to judicial selection reform. An example is Rhonda Holman of the Wichita Eagle, who in 2010 wrote: “Some critics may have a beef with past court decisions, perhaps even a legitimate one — which is no surprise, given that judicial decisions pick winners and losers. But they also may be motivated by politics — which is a problem, given that the judiciary is supposed to be fair, impartial and independent. In the absence of a strong case for change, Kansas should stick with what works.”

With the change in composition of the Kansas Senate, the climate is more favorable for reform for the way judges are selected for the Kansas Court of Appeals. The law governing how judges for the Kansas Supreme Court are selected is in the Kansas Constitution, and would require an amendment to alter the process. Such an amendment requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature, and then a simple majority vote of the people.

By the way: For those who criticize the support for judicial selection reform as pure power politics, since Kansas has a conservative governor, remember this: When Professor Ware sounded the need for reform and convinced me of the need, our governor was the liberal Kathleen Sebelius. There was also a liberal senate at that time, one which would undoubtedly have rubberstamped any nominee Sebelius might have sent for confirmation.

Originalism, Balanced Legal Realism and Judicial Selection: A Case Study
By Stephen J. Ware

Abstract: The “balanced realist” view that judging inevitably involves lawmaking is widely accepted, even among originalists, such as Justice Scalia, Randy Barnett and Steven Calabresi. Yet many lawyers are still reluctant to acknowledge publicly the inevitability of judicial lawmaking. This reluctance is especially common in debates over the Missouri Plan, a method of judicial selection that divides the power to appoint judges between the governor and the bar.

The Missouri Plan is one of three widely-used methods of selecting state court judges. The other two are: (1) direct election of judges by the citizenry, and (2) appointment of judges by democratically elected officials, typically the governor and legislature, with little or no role for the bar. Each of these two methods of judicial selection respects a democratic society’s basic equality among citizens — the principle of one-person, one-vote. In contrast, the Missouri Plan violates this principle by making a lawyer’s vote worth more than another citizen’s vote.

This Article provides a case study of the clash between the inevitability of judicial lawmaking and the reluctance of lawyers to acknowledge this inevitability while defending their disproportionate power under the Missouri Plan. The Article documents efforts by lawyers in one state, Kansas, to defend their version of the Missouri Plan by attempting to conceal from the public the fact that Kansas judges, like judges in the other 49 states, inevitably make law. The case study then shows examples of Kansas judges making law. The Article concludes that honesty requires lawyers participating in the debate over judicial selection in the United States to forthrightly acknowledge that judges make law. Lawyers who seek to defend the power advantage the Missouri Plan gives them over other citizens can honestly acknowledge that this is a power advantage in the selection of lawmakers and then explain why they believe a departure from the principle of one-person, one-vote is justified in the selection of these particular lawmakers.

The complete paper may be downloaded at no charge here.

Wichita-area legislators on government efficiency

Who could be against more efficient government? Even those who score poorly on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index say they are in favor of efficiency and eliminating waste. Here’s an example from the campaign website of Nile Dillmore, who is running for re-election:

“Nile rejects that ‘tax-and-spend’ is the most effective and efficient way to manage government! Nile supports cutting waste and inefficiencies and keeping our tax burden as low as possible.”

But as is often the case in politics, legislators’ campaign rhetoric and promises don’t align with their actual votes. For example, in the 2011 session of the Kansas Legislature HB 2194 was introduced, which in its original form would have created the Kansas Advisory Council on Privatization and Public-Private Partnerships.

According to the supplemental note for the bill, “The purpose of the Council would be to ensure that certain state agencies, including the Board of Regents and postsecondary educational institutions, would: 1) focus on the core mission and provide goods and services efficiently and effectively; 2) develop a process to analyze opportunities to improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness and provide quality services, operations, functions, and activities; and 3) evaluate for feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency opportunities that could be outsourced. Excluded from the state agencies covered by the bill would be any entity not receiving State General Fund or federal funds appropriation.”

This bill passed by a vote of 68 to 51 in the House of Representatives and did not advance in the Senate. Wichita-area legislators who are running for re-election and who voted against this bill included Dillmore, Gail Finney, Geraldine Flaharty, Dan Kerschen, Dillmore’s current opponent Brenda Landwehr, and Jim Ward.

In response to the vote on this bill, Dillmore was quoted in the Wichita Eagle: “Rep. Nile Dillmore , D-Wichita, pointed out that the Republicans cheered 44 days ago when newly elected Gov. Sam Brownback, in his State of the State address, repeatedly said ‘The days of ever-expanding government are over'” ‘What’s our response?’ Dillmore said. ‘Let’s create a commission for this. Let’s create a commission for that. Let’s grow some government.'”

But this bill — and two others described below — proposed to spend modest amounts aimed at increasing the manageability and efficiency of government, not the actual size and scope of government itself. As it turns out, many in the legislature are happy with the operations of state government remaining in the shadows, despite claims made during campaigns.

Another bill from 2011 was HB 2158, which would have created performance measures for state agencies and reported that information to the public. The supplemental note says that the bill “as amended, would institute a new process for modifying current performance measures and establishing new standardized performance measures to be used by all state agencies in support of the annual budget requests. State agencies would be required to consult with representatives of the Director of the Budget and the Legislative Research Department to modify each agency’s current performance measures, to standardize such performance measures, and to utilize best practices in all state agencies.” Results of the performance measures would be posted on a public website.

This bill passed the House of Representatives by a nearly unanimous vote of 119 to 2, with Wichita’s Dillmore and Flaherty the two nay votes. The bill didn’t advance in the Senate.

Another 2011 bill was HB 2120, which according to its supplemental note “would establish the Kansas Streamlining Government Act, which would have the purpose of improving the performance, efficiency, and operations of state government by reviewing certain state agencies, programs, boards, and commissions.” Fee-funded agencies — examples include Kansas dental board and Kansas real estate commission — would be exempt from this bill.

In more detail, the text of the bill explains: “The purposes of the Kansas streamlining government act are to improve the performance, streamline the operations, improve the effectiveness and efficiency, and reduce the operating costs of the executive branch of state government by reviewing state programs, policies, processes, original positions, staffing levels, agencies, boards and commissions, identifying those that should be eliminated, combined, reorganized, downsized or otherwise altered, and recommending proposed executive reorganization orders, executive orders, legislation, rules and regulations, or other actions to accomplish such changes and achieve such results.”

In testimony in support of this legislation, Dave Trabert, President of Kansas Policy Institute offered testimony that echoed findings of the public choice school of economics and politics: “Some people may view a particular expenditure as unnecessary to the fulfillment of a program’s or an agency’s primary mission while others may see it as essential. Absent an independent review, we are expecting government employees to put their own self-interests aside and make completely unbiased decisions on how best to spend taxpayer funds. It’s not that government employees are intentionally wasteful; it’s that they are human beings and setting self-interests aside is challenge we all face.”

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 79 to 40. It died in the Senate. Wichita-area legislators who are running for re-election and who voted against this bill included Dillmore, Finney, Flaharty, Landwehr, and Ward.

In Kansas, rejecting left-wing Republicans

The headline in the Kansas City Star reads “Voters reject middle ground in Kansas Senate races.” A more accurate conclusion is that voters have realized that the governance of Kansas by a coalition of Democrats and left-wing Republicans has not been in the state’s best interest. Stagnate job growth as compared to other states, increasing spending on schools with no accountability and not even an honest discussion of achievement, falling behind other states in school reform and school choice, a highly undemocratic method of selecting our state’s top judges, resistance to privatization and other measures to streamline government, business tax costs topped by only a few other states: these are some of the results of this coalition.

But yesterday, Kansas voters said goodbye to many of the left-wing Republicans — the so-called “moderates” or “traditional Republicans” — and nominated conservatives in their place. Some nominees face Democratic challengers in November.

The results are a surprise not only for the number of victories by conservatives, but the margin of victory. In Johnson County, incumbent Senator Tim Owens was defeated 60 to 40. Owens ranked at the bottom of all senators — Democrats included — in the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.

In a neighboring district, incumbent Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook won her primary election by a 64 to 36 margin. Pilcher-Cook ranked at the top of the Kansas Economic Freedom index. Conservative Steve Abrams, who ranked well in the KEFI, also defeated a challenger.

Another notable result is the defeat of Senate President Steve Morris.

Other defeats of moderates, some being incumbents, include Jeff Melcher over Pat Colloton to replace John Vratil, Jacob LaTurner over Bob Marshall, Forrest Knox over John Grange, Jeff King over Dwayne Umbarger, Greg Smith over Joe Beveridge, Bob Reader over Roger Reitz, Tom Arpke over Pete Brungardt, Michael O’Donnell over Jean Schodorf, Mitch Holmes over Ruth Teichmann, and Dan Kerschen over Dick Kelsey. Kelsey will dispute being lumped in the moderate camp, but on economic freedom issues, he ranked just barely above neutral.

There were some victories for the moderates. Kay Wolf won the primary to replace Terrie Huntington, which is a retention for moderates. In Topeka, moderate Vicki Schmidt retains a place in the Senate, as does Carolyn McGinn in south-central Kansas. Pat Apple defeated a challenge from Charlotte O’Hara. Apple ranks barely above neutral in the KEFI, while O’Hara, in the Kansas House, was near the top. Jeff Longbine survived a challenge from conservative James Fawcett.

Commenting on the results, Americans for Prosperity–Kansas state director Derrick Sontag said “The primary results make one thing clear: Kansans support those who promote fiscally conservative, limited government, free market policies. Fiscal conservatives are now being elected because of the policies that have failed our state for years. This new field of candidates vying for office reflects a continued desire to put a stop to the rampant state spending and high tax burdens of the past. It is evident from the results at the ballot box that Kansans want a reasonable, responsible government and we are optimistic that our state is now starting to head down the path toward prosperity and a strong Kansas economy.”

In local races in south-central Kansas, voters rejected the challenge by left-wing Republican Wichita City Council Member Jeff Longwell to incumbent Karl Peterjohn. Longwell had the endorsement of Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and all Wichita City Council members except Michael O’Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita). Three Sedgwick County Commission members endorsed Longwell, too. As there is no Democratic contestant, this race is over.

In suburban Andover, voters rejected a proposed property tax increase for schools. Update: After the final canvass of votes, the tax increase passed by two votes.

Kansas traditional Republicans: The record

As Kansas Republicans decide who to vote for in next week’s primary election, moderate senate incumbents and many newspapers urge voting for those Republicans who promote a “reasonable,” “balanced,” and “responsible” approach to Kansas government. When we examine the record of the coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats that governed Kansas for the first decade of this century, we see legislative accomplishment that not many Kansans may be aware of. Almost all have been harmful to our state.

Most of the moderate Republicans run campaigns promoting themselves as fiscal conservatives. But their voting records often tell a different story. That’s why in 2010 I produced the Kansas Economic Freedom Index to shine light on the actual votes cast by legislators. This year I joined with Kansas Policy Institute and Americans for Prosperity–Kansas to produce a larger and more structured index. Kansans might be surprised to learn that the senator who ranks lowest in voting for economic freedom is a Republican.

Perhaps the most important issue for most Kansans is jobs. In this regard, Kansas — under leadership of moderates — has performed poorly. A chart of the number of private sector jobs in Kansas as compared to a few surrounding states over the past eleven years shows Kansas at or near the bottom. (Kansas is the thick black line. Data is indexed so that all states start at the same relative position.)

Kansas private sector job growth compared to other statesKansas private sector job growth compared to other states. Data is indexed, with January 2001 equal to 1. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Incredibly, not long ago Kansas was the only state to have a loss in private sector jobs over a year-long period. This is the culmination of governance by the coalition of moderate, traditional Kansas Republicans and Democrats.

Analysis in the current edition of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index confirms that the Kansas economy has not performed well. The “Economic Outlook Ranking” is a forecast looking forward, based on factors that are under control of the states. The “Economic Performance Ranking” is a backward-looking rating that measures state performance, again using variables under control of each state.

For Economic Performance Ranking, Kansas is ranked 39 among the states, near the bottom in terms of positive performance. In the 2010 edition, Kansas was ranked 40th, and in 2010, 34th. Kansas is not making progress in this ranking of state performance. In the forward-looking Economic Outlook Ranking, Kansas ranks 26th. Again, Kansas is not making progress, compared to other states. In annual rankings since 2008 Kansas has been ranked 29, 24, 25, 27, and now 26.

Further evidence of the harm of moderate Republican/Democratic governance was revealed earlier this year when the Tax Foundation released a report examining tax costs on business in the states and in selected cities in each state. The news for Kansas is worse than merely bad, as our state couldn’t have performed much worse: Kansas ranks 47th among the states for tax costs for mature business firms, and 48th for new firms. See Kansas reasonable: We’re number 47 (and 48).

On government reform, moderate Republicans have blocked efforts to improve the operations and reduce the cost of Kansas state government. In 2011 the Kansas Legislature lost three opportunities to do just this. Three bills, each with this goal, were passed by the House of Representatives, but each failed to pass through the moderate-controlled Senate, or had its contents stripped and replaced with different legislation. See Kansas reasonable: Government reform.

Moderates are proud of keeping politics out of judicial selection. In reality, Kansas judicial selection is highly politicized and undemocratic, with out-sized power concentrated in a special interest group: lawyers. Among the fifty states, Kansas is at the undemocratic extreme in the way we select judges, and moderates defend this system. See Kansas reasonable: Judicial selection.

Moderates usually claim that they are the “education” candidate, and are proud of their support for spending on Kansas schools. They “march in lockstep” with those who constantly call for more school spending, even to the point of suing the state’s taxpayers for more money. They join with the special interests who fight against accountability measures. They also fight against an honest assessment of the condition of public schools in Kansas, and when you look under the covers, it’s not the pretty picture that education bureaucrats paint.

As an example, compare Kansas with Texas, a state that Kansas school spending boosters and moderate Republicans like to deride as a state with low-performing schools. In Kansas 69 percent of students are white, while in Texas that number is 33 percent. So it’s not surprising that overall, Kansas outperforms Texas (with one tie) when considering all students in four important areas: fourth and eighth grade reading, and fourth and eighth grade math. But looking at Hispanic students only, Texas beats or ties Kansas in these four areas. For black students, Texas bests Kansas in all four. Texas does this with much less spending per pupil than Kansas. See Kansas reasonable: The education candidates.

A recent column described traditional, moderate Kansas Republicans as those who “believe government has a more affirmative role in assuring a high quality of life for Kansans.” The record, however, is one that has placed Kansas at disadvantage to other states, and it will be difficult to recover. Kansas traditional: the platform.

Kansas reasonable: The legacy

As campaigns for positions in the Kansas Legislature heat up, some are calling for voters to support candidates who will follow a tradition of “reasonableness” that, they say, is characteristic of successful Kansas politicians — the “traditional” Republicans.

Others call for a “balanced” approach to government and “responsible tax reform.” Senate President Steve Morris contributes an op-ed in support of “incumbent senators who put their local communities above the agendas of these special interest groups.”

Reasonable, balanced, responsible. These are words that promote a positive image, although sometimes negative words are used, as in criticism of Kansas tax reform as “reckless.”

So what is the record of the reasonable Kansas politicians? The first decade of this century was marked by a legislature and governors that were, well, reasonable. During this decade the Kansas economy performed poorly. A chart of the number of private sector jobs in Kansas as compared to a few surrounding states over the past eleven years shows Kansas at or near the bottom. (Kansas is the thick black line. Data is indexed so that all states start at the same relative position.)

The record of Kansas government policies has not been one we can be proud of. It is not reasonable, balanced, or responsible to continue with the policies that caused this lost decade. Kansans need to support candidates who will vote in favor of economic freedom, which is the key to jobs and prosperity for Kansas. The Kansas Economic Freedom Index is a resource that voters can use to learn more about incumbent candidates and how they voted on issues of economic freedom.

Kansas private sector job growth compared to other statesKansas private sector job growth compared to other states. Data is indexed, with January 2001 equal to 1. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Kansas senators seen as unfriendly to business

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee has made campaign contributions to the primary election opponents of eight Republican members of the Kansas Senate that it sees as impediments to private sector job creation, according to reporting in the Lawrence Journal-World.

According to its website, the Chamber PAC “supports and endorses incumbent state legislators and other candidates for state office who support the Kansas Chamber’s legislative agenda, promote the tenets of free enterprise and pledge to make Kansas a better place in which to do business.”

Following is the 2010 Kansas Senate roster with each senator’s score on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for that year. The names of the senators whose opponents are supported by the Kansas Chamber PAC appear in boldface. You can see that as a group, these senators rank very low in their support of issues important to economic freedom in Kansas.

(Senator Chris Steineger is now a Republican.)

Senator Party Score
Holland, Tom D 0%
Francisco, Marci D 7%
Kultala, Kelly D 7%
McGinn, Carolyn R 7%
Morris, Stephen R 7%
Brungardt, Pete R 13%
Emler, Jay R 13%
Faust-Goudeau, Oletha D 13%
Hensley, Anthony D 13%
Kelly, Laura D 13%
Lee, Janis D 13%
Reitz, Roger R 13%
Schmidt, Vicki R 13%
Schodorf, Jean R 18%
Haley, David D 20%
Huntington, Terrie R 20%
Owens, Thomas (Tim) R 20%
Umbarger, Dwayne R 20%
Taddiken, Mark R 24%
Teichman, Ruth R 24%
Vratil, John R 27%
Marshall, Bob R 31%
Ostmeyer, Ralph R 31%
Steineger, Chris D 58%
Schmidt, Derek R 62%
Apple, Pat R 69%
Barnett, Jim R 69%
Colyer, Jeff R 69%
Donovan, Les R 73%
Kelsey, Dick R 73%
Petersen, Mike R 80%
Wagle, Susan R 80%
Lynn, Julia R 86%
Abrams, Steve R 87%
Brownlee, Karin R 87%
Bruce, Terry R 87%
Huelskamp, Tim R 87%
Masterson, Ty R 87%
Pyle, Dennis R 87%
Pilcher Cook, Mary R 93%

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday March 25, 2011

Elections coming up. On Tuesday April 5 voters across Kansas will vote in city and school board elections. Voting has been underway for about a week through the advance voting process. For those who haven’t yet decided, here’s the Wichita Eagle voter guide. You can get a list of the candidates, along with their responses to questions, customized for your address.

Campaign signs. The placement of political campaign signs can be an issue. Here is a City of Wichita letter describing placement rules, and a diagram. … If you live in a neighborhood with covenants prohibiting campaign signs, the covenants don’t apply at election time. See In Kansas, political signs are okay, despite covenants.

In Kansas, cutting unnecessary spending can avoid service cuts. Following up on Kansas state agency spending, Kansas Policy Institute finds examples of spending on overtime, advertising, cell phones, and dues, memberships and subscriptions totaling $50 million. KPI president Dave Trabert remarked: “Hardly a day goes by that we don’t see some group or state agency saying they will have to cut necessary services if their funding is reduced, but it’s pretty clear that there are lots of other ways to reduce spending. Some degree of spending in these categories is understandable, but the data clearly show that large amounts of taxpayer money are being spent unnecessarily.” Other examples uncovered by KPI: “The Legislature spent $144,408 to join the National Council of State Legislators and also spent $107,022 to join the Council of State Governments. The Governor’s office bought memberships in three governors’ associations: the National Governor’s Association ($83,800), the Western Governors’ Association ($36,000) and the Midwestern Governors’ Association ($10,000).” More is in the KPI press release K-State #1 in Cell Phone Spending: Cutting unnecessary spending can avoid service cuts.

March to Economic Growth stalled. The Kansas House of Representatives has passed a bill that would gradually reduce Kansas personal and corporate income tax rates. The so-called MEGA bill wold create a mechanism where if revenue flowing to the state increases, income tax rates would be reduced proportionally, after adjusting for inflation. Besides lowering these tax rates, which would make Kansas more attractive to business and jobs, the bill would also decrease the rate of growth of spending. But Senate leadership, namely its president, doesn’t care for the bill, so it appears it is dead this year. Last year Senate President Stephen Morris was strongly in favor of the statewide sales tax increase. Despite being a member of the Republican Party, he is part of the Senate’s liberal wing, according to the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and other legislative ratings.

Open records under attack. CommonSense with Paul Jacob reports on efforts underway in Utah to reduce citizens’ ability to learn about their government: “House Bill 477 changes the core of the GRAMA law, mandating that citizens must prove they deserve access to records, rather than the previous rule requiring government officials to show cause for why a document should not be released. The legislation also exempts text messages, emails and voicemails from being disclosed, the better to keep lobbyists and special interests out of the limelight.” The Daily Herald wrote: “The principle of open government now would apply only when ‘the public interest favoring access to the record outweighs the interest favoring restriction of access to the record,’ in the opinion of the government.” … This bill actually became law, but so much public opinion was roused that it is likely the Utah legislature will overturn the act, according to reports. … Jacob’s email on this matter was subtitled “Paul Jacob notices nearly absolute power corrupting GOP legislators in Utah.”

Ignorant or just ill-informed? L. Brent Bozell in Investor’s Business Daily: “Anyone who’s ever seen Jay Leno do one of his ‘Jaywalking’ segments on NBC, locating average Americans and asking them factual questions on street corners, knows there are far too many Americans who know next to nothing about just about everything. They can’t name our first president or don’t know what the phrase ‘Founding Fathers’ means. Ask them to name our current vice president and watch the brain waves flat line. Newsweek magazine recently announced its disgust after it offered the government’s official citizenship test (the one we require immigrants to pass before being naturalized) to 1,000 Americans. Thirty-eight percent of the sample failed. Newsweek worried in its headline: ‘The country’s future is imperiled by our ignorance.'” Locally, I am reminded of the Kansas Policy Institute and its survey of Kansans and their knowledge of school spending. Regarding that, I reported: “When talking about Kansas school spending, few Kansans have accurate information. Those with children in the public school system are even more likely to be uninformed regarding accurate figures.”

Government spending overrides privates spending. The last two days have featured readings from Robert P. Murphy’s book Lessons for the Young Economist on the importance of profits and loses in guiding investment, and how government is unable to calculate its profit or loss. Today, Murphy explains government spending and the political process: For example, suppose the government decides to build a public library in order to make books and internet access free to the community. Because the government only has a limited budget, it won’t do something ridiculously wasteful such as coating the library with gold, or stocking the shelves with extremely rare first editions of Steinbeck and Hemingway novels. Suppose the government tries to be conscientious, puts out bids to several reputable contractors, and has a modest library constructed for $400,000. Yet even if outside auditors or investigative journalists could find nothing corrupt or shocking about the process, the question would still remain: Was it worth it to spend $400,000 on building this particular library, in this particular location? The crucial point is that we know one thing for certain: No entrepreneur thought that he could earn enough revenues from charging for book borrowing to make such an enterprise worthwhile. We know this because the library didn’t exist until the government used its own funds to build it! One way to think about government expenditures is that they necessarily call forth the creation of goods and services that people in the private sector did not deem worth producing. When the government spends money, it directs resources away from where private spending decisions would have steered them, and into projects that would not be profitable if private entrepreneurs had produced them relying on voluntary funding. Thus the political authorities in an interventionist economy face one-half of the socialist calculation problem. … The government in essence is a giant distributor of charitable donations. Even those citizens who welcome the concept should ask themselves: Why do we need to route our donations through the political process? Why not decentralize the decisions and allow each person to donate his or her funds to the various charities that seem most worthy? … Regardless of its possible benefits, government spending suffers from the calculation problem afflicting socialism. The system allows a select group of political authorities to override the input of private individuals in how (some of) their property should be used to steer resources into various projects. This is a very serious drawback for anyone who favors interventionism as a way to increase the “general welfare,” however defined.

Kansas income is growing. While still lower than its peak in 2008, wage and salary income in Kansas is on the way up, and has been throughout 2010.

iPhone screen

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday February 28, 2011

Elections tomorrow. On Tuesday voters across Kansas will vote in city and school board primary elections. Well, at least a few will vote, as it is thought that only nine percent of eligible voters will actually vote. Many of those may have already voted by now, as advance voting is popular. For those who haven’t yet decided, here’s the Wichita Eagle voter guide.

Kansas schools can transfer funds? A recent legislative update by Kansas Representative Bob Brookens, a Republican from Marion, tells readers this about Kansas school finance: “Most school districts in our area braced for this possibility by taking advantage of a law passed last year by the legislature; the new provision allowed schools this one time to transfer funds from certain other areas to their contingency reserve fund, just in case the state had a budget hole in fiscal year 2011; and most of the school districts around here moved all they were allowed to.” Thing is, no one can seem to remember the law Brookens refers to. There were several such laws proposed, but none made their way through the legislature to become law.

Ranzau stand on federal funds profiled. New Sedgwick County Commission member Richard Ranzau has taken a consistent stand against accepting federal grant funds, as explained in a Wichita Eagle story. While his efforts won’t presently reduce federal spending or debt, as explained in the article by H. Edward Flentje, Professor at the Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs at Wichita State University (“Those funds are authorized, they’re budgeted, they’re appropriated, and (a) federal agency will commit the funds elsewhere.”), someone, somewhere, has to take a stand. While we usually think about the federal — and state — spending problem requiring a solution from the top, spending can also be controlled from the bottom up. Those federal elected officials who represent Sedgwick County and are concerned about federal spending — that would be Representative Mike Pompeo and Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts — need to take notice and support Ranzau. Those serving in the Kansas legislature should take notice, too.

Kansas legislative chambers don’t agree. Kansas Reporter details the problems conferees from the House of Representatives and Senate face coming to agreement on the rescission bill. Funding for special education seems the problem. The rescission bill makes cuts to spending so that the current year’s budget balances. More at House, Senate can’t agree how to fund special ed.

Citizens, not taxpayers. A column in the McPherson Sentinel argues that we should think of ourselves as “citizens,” not merely “taxpayers.” The difference, as I read the article, is that a citizen is involved in government and public policy: “It takes work, hard work, to make this system work.” Taxpayers, on the other hand, just pay and expect something back: “‘Look at how much I paid,’ these people cry. ‘Give me my money’s worth!'” The writer makes the case that government “is not a simplistic fiscal transaction” and that citizens must participate to make sure that government does good things with taxes. … The writer gets one thing right. Meeting the needs of the country is complex. Where I don’t agree with the writer is that government is the best way — or even a feasible way — to meet the needs of the country. A method already exists: people trading voluntarily in free markets, guided by profit and loss, with information conveyed by an unfettered price system. Government, with its central planning, its lack of ability to calculate profit and loss, and inevitable tendency to become captured by special interests, is not equipped for this task.

Kansas Economic Freedom Index. This week I produced the first version of the Kansas Economic Freedom Index: Who votes for and against economic freedom in Kansas? for the 2011 legislative session. Currently I have a version only for the House of Representatives, as the Senate hasn’t made many votes that affect economic freedom. The index now has its own site, kansaseconomicfreedom.com.

Increasing taxes not seen as solution. “Leaving aside the moral objection to tax increases, raising taxes won’t in fact solve the problem. For one thing, our public servants always seem to find something new on which to spend the additional money, and it isn’t deficit reduction. But more to the point, tax policy can go only so far, given the natural brick wall it has run into for the past fifty years. Economist Jeffrey Rogers Hummel points out that federal tax revenue ‘has bumped up against 20 percent of GDP for well over half a century. That is quite an astonishing statistic when you think about all the changes in the tax code over the intervening years. Tax rates go up, tax rates go down, and the total bite out of the economy remains relatively constant. This suggests that 20 percent is some kind of structural-political limit for federal taxes in the United States.'” From Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Hummel’s article may be read at Why Default on U.S. Treasuries is Likely.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday February 27, 2011

Boeing tanker contract. While almost everyone in Kansas is celebrating the award of the air fueling tanker replacement contract to Boeing, there are a few reasons we shouldn’t over-celebrate. First, we bought an expensive war weapon. This is guns, not butter. President Dwight Eisenhower warned against the creation of a permanent armaments industry. Now our leaders celebrate defense spending as a jobs creation program, forgetting the opportunity costs of this spending. … In 2008, when the contract was awarded to the foreign company European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. (EADS) and Boeing successfully protested the award, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal correctly analyzed the politics: “What’s really going on is a familiar scrum for federal cash, with politicians from Washington and Kansas using nationalism as cover for their pork-barreling.” The article correctly stated the goal of the contract: “The Pentagon’s job is to defend the country, which means letting contracts that best serve American soldiers and taxpayers, not certain companies.” Noting the aging fleet of tankers the contract would replace, and that the protest by Boeing would delay receiving them, the Journal concluded “Protectionists in Congress want to make America’s soldiers wait even longer for this new equipment, all to score political points at home. There’s a word for that, but it’s not patriotism.” … Of the contract awarded this week, the Journal wrote: “The military and Capitol Hill proved so good at fouling up this decade-long contest through political meddling, fake patriotism and sheer incompetence that a clean resolution may be near impossible.” Noting the international nature of manufacturing, the article wrote: “Boeing and Airbus each would have employed about 50,000 Americans to build up to 179 aerial refueling tankers.” Concluding: “The law tells the Defense Department to buy the best hardware at the best price on the global marketplace, regardless of any impact on domestic job creation. The fuel tanker debacle has undermined a competitive and open market for defense purchases free of political pressure. The losers are American taxpayers and soldiers.”

Kansas Economic Freedom Index. This week I produced the first version of the Kansas Economic Freedom Index: Who votes for and against economic freedom in Kansas? for the 2011 legislative session. Currently I have a version only for the House of Representatives, as the Senate hasn’t made many votes that affect economic freedom. The index now has its own site, kansaseconomicfreedom.com.

Elections this week. On Tuesday voters across Kansas will vote in city and school board primary elections. Well, at least a few will vote, as it is thought that only nine percent of eligible voters will actually vote. Many of those may have already voted by now, as advance voting is popular. For those who haven’t yet decided, here’s the Wichita Eagle voter guide.

Civility is lost on the Wisconsin protesters. Lost not only in Wisconsin, but across the country, writes Michelle Malkin in Washington Examiner. “President Obama’s new era of civility was over before it began. You wouldn’t know it from reading The New York Times, watching Katie Couric or listening to the Democratic manners police. But America has been overrun by foul-mouthed, fist-clenching wildebeests. Yes, the Tea Party Movement is responsible — for sending these liberal goons into an insane rage, that is. After enduring two years of false smears as sexist, racist, homophobic barbarians, it is grassroots conservatives and taxpayer advocates who have been ceaselessly subjected to rhetorical projectile vomit. It is Obama’s rank-and-file “community organizers” on the streets fomenting the hate against their political enemies. Not the other way around.” … Malkin details the viciousness of some of the political activity across the country, some of which is especially demeaning to minorities — and women, as we’ve seen in Kansas this week.

Help Wisconsin Governor Walker. Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity explains what’s happening in Wisconsin: “Governor Walker is simply repairing the Wisconsin budget by reining in the overly generous pension and benefits packages that are far beyond what people in the private sector receive. He’s also ending the government union collective bargaining that has been the chief reason why union benefits and pensions have gotten so out of control.” … Phillips recommends supporting Walker by signing a petition stating: “Union dues should be voluntary, and the state should not be in the business of collecting them. Union certification should require a secret ballot. Collective bargaining should not be used to force extravagant pension and health benefits that cripple state budgets. These common-sense reforms have made the union bosses desperate to disrupt Wisconsin government and overturn an election. They must not be allowed to succeed. In fact, every state should adopt Governor Scott Walker’s common sense reforms.” Click on Stand With Walker to express your support.

Wichita city council. On Tuesday the Wichita City Council will take up these matters: First, the council will decide on a policy regarding soliciting charitable contributions at street intersections. Then, the council will decided whether to create a Community Improvement District for the Eastgate Shopping Center. While the council has enthusiastically granted other applicants this privilege of setting their own sales tax policy for their own benefit — and has voted against meaningful disclosure of this to potential shoppers — this CID may not pass. The Wichita Eagle has editorialized against this CID in particular — twice. Vice Mayor Jeff Longwell voted against accepting the petitions for this CID, although he did not explain his lone dissenting vote. … Then Chrome Plus, a manufacturer, seeks forgiveness from paying property taxes under the city’s Economic Development Exemption (EDX) Program. … In the consent agenda, the council will be asked to approve a payment of $235,000 to settle a lawsuit over “damages incurred in an accident between a Wichita Transit bus and a pedestrian in December 2008.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday December 21, 2010

Steineger switches teams. Chris Steineger, a Kansas State Senator from Kansas City, has switched to the Republican Party. As a Democrat, Steineger had compiled a voting record more conservative than many senate Republicans. On the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year — recognizing that supporting economic freedom is not the same as conservatism or Republicanism — Steineger had a voting record more in favor of economic freedom than that of 15 of the senate’s Republicans.

Kansas school funding reform to wait. Incoming Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says that the Kansas economy comes first, and then school finance, Medicaid, and KPERS in a “year or two.” Tim Carpenter of the Topeka Capital-Journal reports in Revitalizing the Kansas economy is the governor-elect’s No. 1 priority.

Tax cuts in Kansas not likely, says new senate leader. Yesterday Kansas Senate Republicans elected Jay Emler of Lindsborg to be the majority leader, replacing Derek Schmidt, who will become Attorney General. As the Associated Press reports, Emler is not in favor of any tax cuts, including a repeal of the recent increase in the statewide sales tax.

McGinn to lead Ways and Means. Carolyn McGinn, a Kansas Senator from Sedgwick, will chair the Ways and Means Committee. This important committee handles appropriations — in other words, the actual spending of money. On the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, McGinn scored seven percent, tying her with Senate President Stephen Morris as the Republicans most opposed to economic freedom. She also scores low in the Kansas Taxpayer Network/Americans for Prosperity ratings.

Kansas holds on to House seats. At one time it was feared that the 2010 U.S. Census might find Kansas losing one of its four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. But Kansas will retain them. Texas picks up four seats, Florida adds two, while Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah gain one seat each. Ohio and New York lose two each, while Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and New Jersey lose one each.

Rasmussen polls. As often, Rasmussen is the bearer of bad news. Like: What’s the deal with Obama? “For the first time since he became president, only 35% of voters say Barack Obama thinks society is fair and decent. That’s almost half as many as voters who hold that belief themselves. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 49%, on the other hand, say Obama thinks society is unfair and discriminatory.” See America’s Best Days: Fewer Voters Than Ever Say Obama Thinks Society is Fair and Decent. … Tea Party people skeptical of newly elected officeholders: “Most Tea Party members view the candidates they elected in November as agents of change from government business as usual, but non-members are a lot more skeptical. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone poll finds that only 34% of all Likely U.S. Voters think Tea Party candidates elected in November will remain true to their beliefs. See Most Tea Party Members Think Those They Elected Won’t Sell Out, Others Aren’t So Sure. … Others are pessimistic, too: “Just 23% of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction.” See Right Direction or Wrong Track.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday November 17, 2010

Kansas Senator Lee to tax court. State of the State KS reports that Kansas Senator Janis Lee has been appointed by Governor Mark Parkinson to the Kansas State Court of Tax Appeals. Lee is a Democrat from Kensington in northwest Kansas. This action opens another position in the senate — another three pending vacancies need to be filled due to senators who won election to other offices — and others are likely to follow as incoming governor Sam Brownback fills his cabinet. Lee scored 13 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, which is a voting record more in favor of economic freedom than some other Senate Democrats — and some Republicans such as Senate President Steve Morris, for that matter. Lee’s replacement will be selected by the Democratic Party precinct committeemen and committeewomen in that senate district.

Saving is good. A letter in today’s Wichita Eagle holds this observation: “Rich people don’t spend money in hard times. Give them a tax break, and they will stash it away. That’s why they are rich.” This letter contains a misconception that news media mistakenly repeats over and over: that consumer spending is good and saving is bad. What happens to savings — the “stash it away” the letter writer refers to? Few people stuff cash in the mattress or in a safe. Instead, they do several things with they money they decide not to spend on immediate consumption, which is the definition of savings. If put it in a bank, the bank lends it to others who will spend it. If used to pay down debt, that frees up funds for others to spend. If used to buy stocks and bonds, that provides funds for business to invest. Importantly, these funds usually go into increasing the nation’s stock of capital. This capital spending is especially desirable, as it supports current economic activity — that is, the people and companies that work today to produce capital goods — but it sets up the country to produce even more wealth in the future.

Voters express pessimism. Consistent with other recent Rasmussen polls, voters are not optimistic that Congress will be able to accomplish very much in the next two years. See Voters Hold Little Hope for What New Congress Is Likely To Achieve.

KDOT seeks public comment on public involvement policy. This seems almost like circular reasoning, but the Kansas Department of Transportation seeks public comment on a document titled “Sharing the Future — Public Involvement in the Kansas Transportation System.” The document — all 113 pages — may be found on this page. Comments should be directed to Kansas Department of Transportation, Bureau of Public Involvement, 700 S.W. Harrison, Topeka, 66603-3754, (785) 296-3526, fax (785) 368-6664, or maggiet@ksdot.org.

Texas stimulus spending — not. Texas Watchdog takes a look at federal stimulus spending in Texas and finds some disturbing results. An example: “A closer look at spending by each agency shows wild differences in the amount of money spent and the number of jobs created. At least eight agencies have reported spending $500,000 or more for every job claimed. In the case of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, its $883,993 per job is an estimate because more than a year after it was awarded nearly $8 million for a statewide library broadband upgrade project, nothing has been spent and none of its projected nine employees have been hired.”

Who stole Election Day? A candidate for Maine governor wonders whether the rise of advance voting — “convenience voting,” he calls it — is good for the country. Besides meeting a voter who expressed regret in having already voted for his opponent, Eliot Cutler writes this of convenience voting: “At a time when sea changes are roiling our democracy, political parties are in decline, and public confidence in the political system is plummeting, convenience voting is having all the wrong effects. In Maine, at least, it appears to be discouraging voter engagement, providing life support to withering political parties, and undermining one of our most enduring and important institutions.” More in the Wall Street Journal at Who Stole Election Day? Too many voters are making decisions when horse-race coverage dominates the news, attention to issues is limited, and key debates haven’t taken place.

Adapt, don’t overreact to climate change. Bjorn Lomborg — The Skeptical Environmentalist — of the Copenhagen Consensus Center argues in the pages of the Washington Post that mankind has shown that it can adapt to climate change. This record, he argues, means we should not panic about climate change. We can afford a long-term perspective: “… when it comes to dealing with the impact of climate change, we’ve compiled a pretty impressive track record. While this doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore climate change, it provides a powerful reason not to panic about it either.” He cites the example of the Netherlands: “Keeping Holland protected from any future sea-level rises for the next century will cost only about one-tenth of 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.” Concluding, he writes: “[adaption] will enable us to get by while we figure out the best way to address the root causes of man-made climate change. This may not seem like much, but at a time when fears of a supposedly imminent apocalypse threaten to swamp rational debate about climate policy, it’s worth noting that coping with climate change is something we know how to do. ”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday October 26, 2010

Karl Rove. “Former George W. Bush aide Matt Latimer was there to observe the dealings of Karl Rove during the previous administration, and he writes that there’s no secret why most conservatives have now come to view Rove as a fraud. Latimer says that Rove has become symbolic of a GOP establishment that’s known for its utter betrayal and ruin of the Party that Reagan had left so strong. Now that his secret is out, Rove’s influence will only continue to diminish as time goes on and the Tea Parties take over.” A fascinating look at the legacy of Rove, and illustrates the tension between the tea party and the Republican establishment. From Karl Rove’s Flameout.

Waiting for Superman. The Kansas Policy Institute will host a free screening of Waiting for Superman on Thursday November 4th. Of the film, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The new film ‘Waiting for ‘Superman'” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact. Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools.” In Kansas, the Wichita Eagle printed an op-ed penned by the education bureaucracy status quoSharon Hartin Iorio, dean of the Wichita State University College of Education in this case — to inoculate Wichitans against the effects of what I am told is a powerful film. Let’s hope this film gets Kansans to thinking about public schools in our state, as Kansas is way behind the curve on innovation, compared to other states. The film will be shown at 7:00pm at the Warren Theatre East (11611 E. 13th St.). KPI asks that you RSVP by Tuesday, November 2 to James Franko at james.franko@kansaspolicy.org. Space is limited.

Brownback at Wichita Pachyderm. Friday’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm club will feature United States Senator and candidate for Kansas governor Sam Brownback. The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Right to work = economic growth. In The Daily Caller, Emporia State University’s Greg Schneider looks at the history of unions in America and right-to-work laws. The number of union jobs has declined as unionized companies became less competitive, not because of right-to-work laws.

Kansas private sector loses jobs, government grows. “Roughly 7,600 private sector jobs in Kansas disappeared from August to September, while government jobs grew by 21,000 over the same time period.” Most of the government jobs were in schools, writes Rachel Whitten in the Kansas Reporter.

Tea Party plans to exert influence. As newly-elected members of Congress arrive in Washington to assume their seats, a tea party group plans to lay down expectations. “The meeting of newly elected officials, the date of which hasn’t been set, is designed to keep new representatives connected to ‘what we expect from them,’ according to the memo. Incumbent Republican members of Congress and the party’s national leadership won’t be invited, said Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, in an interview. ‘The incumbents have allowed us to get into the problems we are in now,’ he said. ‘We hope to get to the freshmen before the incumbents get to them, and start twisting their arms.”” The full story in the Wall Street Journal is Group Plans to Keep Pressure on Newly Elected Conservatives. There is definitely conflict between the Tea Party and the Republican Establishment.

Goyle numbers explained by rats and cats. Candidate for U.S. Congress from the Kansas fourth district Raj Goyle says he has voted with Republicans in the Kansas House of Representatives 80 percent of the time. While a detailed analysis of the votes would be difficult and time-consuming, the majority of measures voted on by legislatures pass nearly unanimously — the so-called “rats and cats” bills. The important cases this year where Goyle voted against his party — the big-spending budget and the statewide sales tax increase — represent either a genuine change in Goyle’s political philosophy, or election-year window dressing. Voters have to make the call.

Holland claim doubted. In an interview with the Dodge City Daily Globe, Kansas governor hopeful Democrat Tom Holland said “Now I have a proven track record in the Kansas Legislature of reaching across the aisle and working with Republicans.” Evidence, however, points the other way. In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, Holland is the only Kansas Senator that earned a score of 0 percent. KEFI is not designed to group legislators into Republican or Democratic camps, but Holland ranks alone at the extreme end of the spectrum — voting against economic freedom in all cases.

Arts in Wichita promoted. Today John D’Angelo, manager of Wichita’s Division of Arts and Cultural Services, contributes a piece to the Wichita Eagle titled How can Wichita sustain, grow arts sector? The answer to this question is: reduce government involvement in the arts, first by abolishing Mr. D’Angelo’s department and city taxation for spending on the arts. This will force arts organizations to meet the demands of consumers as expressed in free markets. Currently, a board of cronies dishes out tax money to arts organizations using political rather than market criteria. This process lets these organizations exists by appealing to Wichita’s cultural elites, rather than the broad market. See Government Art in Wichita. Economic fallacy supports arts in Wichita provides background to D’Angelo’s claim of the economic benefit of the arts, at least government spending on arts.

Texting bans haven’t worked

In an attempt to increase highway safety, many states have passed bans on texting while driving. But the bans haven’t worked, and some states have experienced an increase in crashes.

A news release from the Highway Loss Data Institute summarizes the finding of a new study: “It’s illegal to text while driving in most US states. Yet a new study by researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) finds no reductions in crashes after laws take effect that ban texting by all drivers. In fact, such bans are associated with a slight increase in the frequency of insurance claims filed under collision coverage for damage to vehicles in crashes. This finding is based on comparisons of claims in 4 states before and after texting ban, compared with patterns of claims in nearby states.”

The study does not claim that texting while driving is not dangerous. Rather, the realization by drivers that texting is illegal may be altering their behavior in a way that becomes even more dangerous than legal texting. Explains Adrian Lund, president of both HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: “If drivers were disregarding the bans, then the crash patterns should have remained steady. So clearly drivers did respond to the bans somehow, and what they might have been doing was moving their phones down and out of sight when they texted, in recognition that what they were doing was illegal. This could exacerbate the risk of texting by taking drivers’ eyes further from the road and for a longer time.”

When Kansas passed its texting ban this year, newspapers editors praised the legislature and Governor Mark Parkinson for passing the law. In an editorial, the Wichita Eagle’s Rhonda Holman wrote “But it’s nice to know the state finally has a law against this brainless and dangerous practice.” In his written statement, Parkinson said “I am pleased to sign this legislation that will encourage more aware drivers and save Kansas lives.”

While Kansas was not included in the HLDI study, there’s no reason to think that Kansas will experience anything different from the states that were studied: Kansas drivers may be under greater risk of being in a crash after the passage of this law. Stricter enforcement of this law and higher fines will simply encourage the dangerous law-evading texting behavior.

The texting ban was included in my Kansas Economic Freedom Index for 2010 for the Kansas Senate. Senators who voted against the ban increased their scores in favor of freedom.

While I did not know the results of this study at that time, this is another example where instinctive distrust of government regulation was the correct diagnosis.

For Kansas Rep. Don Hineman, loyalty is a one-way street

For Republican Kansas Representative Don Hineman of Dighton, party loyalty is a street that runs in only one direction: towards himself.

In 2008, Hineman challenged an incumbent Republican in Kansas House District 118. Hineman narrowly won the primary. The loser, Virginia Beamer, decided to mount a write-in campaign for the November general election. Hineman won, gathering 6,112 votes to Beamer’s 2,716.

During the general election campaign, a well-known conservative political communications company worked on behalf of Beamer. Hineman complained, saying that this work violated the Kansas Republican party’s loyalty amendment. In an email, he wrote: “As the nominee of the party I had expected to have the support of party officials, regardless of whatever differences we may have over political philosophy.”

While I don’t agree with party loyalty oaths, this matter would be just a footnote — and not very interesting at that — if not for Hineman’s recent actions.

Now, just two years after insisting that a political communications firm cease working for his opponent based on party loyalty, Hineman is campaigning for a Democrat. Not just any Democrat, but former Republican consultant Rob McKnight, who defected to the Democratic Party in order to run for a Kansas House seat from Overland Park.

The party loyalty section of the Kansas Republican Party Constitution doesn’t apply to elected officials like Hineman. It didn’t apply to the situation in 2008 either, but that didn’t stop Hineman from complaining that “it certainly violates the spirit of that amendment.”

Hineman’s voting record in the Kansas House is that of a big-taxing and big-spending liberal. He voted for both the big-spending budget and for the statewide sales tax increase this year. He earned a rating of 19 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for 2010, and 30 percent on AFP’s legislative scorecard for 2010. He’s also opposed to giving citizens the power of initiative and referendum in Kansas.

Here’s the email Hineman sent:

Dear Kansas City-area friends and family,

I am forwarding this email to introduce you to Rob McKnight. Rob is a very good friend, and has been my campaign advisor since I first ran for the Kansas House of Representatives in 2008. Evidently he thought I was having too much fun, because this year Rob is a candidate himself, after over twenty years as a campaign advisor to others. He is running to represent the 20th District in the Kansas House, and I would consider it a privilege to serve with Rob in Topeka.

I would ask you to consider helping Rob during his campaign. Please think about making a contribution to his campaign (see information below) or help him during one of his scheduled “literature drops”, the first of which takes place the tomorrow, Saturday, September 18. The attached flyer has more information. Please note this is not knocking on doors; it is merely a door-to-door literature drop. Participants will cover a large amount of territory in a short amount of time.

Rob thinks of everything. The drop is scheduled on a Saturday when the Kansas Jayhawks are idle, so no one need to be distracted by other events. Please consider helping Rob with this event tomorrow. Rob is very deserving, and I know he will be very grateful for your help.


Don Hineman

Kansas primary legislative elections 2010

Here’s a look at the August 3, 2010 Kansas primary election contests that had the possibility of changing the character of the Kansas House of Representatives, and in one case, the Kansas Senate.

A Kansas Chamber of Commerce endorsement is a reliable measure of a candidate’s conservative credentials from a fiscal perspective. The Kansas Economic Freedom Index and AFP legislative scorecards provide additional insight into legislators and their voting records.

Here are races where there may be a shift in the makeup of the House, sometimes depending on the results of the November general election.

In Kansas House District 17 (parts of Shawnee and Lenexa) the Kansas Chamber of Commerce endorsed Kelly Meigs, and she defeated one-term incumbent Jill Quigley 53 percent to 47 percent in the Republican primary. Bryan Cox has filed as a Democrat. Quigley had a liberal voting record, scoring just nine percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.

In Kansas House District 29 (parts of Overland Park) conservative challenger Richard Downing wasn’t able to defeat first-term incumbent Sheryl L. Spalding (19 percent on KEFI), although the margin of Spalding’s victory is just 29 votes of 2,695 cast and could possibly change. The winner will face Democrat Doug Dowell in the general election.

In Kansas House District 65 (Junction City and parts of Geary and Wabaunsee counties), Barbara Craft did not seek re-election. Her Kansas Economic Freedom Index rating of 19 percent places her in the left-wing Republican camp. The Kansas Chamber did not make an endorsement in this district, but Republican primary winner James P. Fawcett has been described as a conservative. He’ll face Democrat Larry Hicks in November.

In House District 110 (Osborne, Rooks and Russell Counties, Cities of Ellis and Victoria, Buckeye, Catherine, Ellis, Herzog and Victoria townships) three Republicans vied to fill this seat previously held by Dan Johnson with his 16 percent Kansas Economic Freedom Index score. Chamber-endorsed Dan L. Collins won. No Democrat filed in this district, so this is a certain pick-up for conservatives.

In House District 69 (parts of Salina) Chamber-endorsed Tom Arpke defeated incumbent Republican Deena L. Horst, who has represented the district since 1995. Horst had earned a score of 69 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index. On AFP’s rating for this year she scored 60 percent and 100 percent the year before. She voted for the big-spending budget this year, but not the sales tax increase. Arpke will face Democrat Gerrett Morris — not to be confused with Garrett Morris of Saturday Night Live fame — in November.

Kansas House District 120 (Cheyenne, Decatur, Norton, Phillips and Rawlins counties) is a loss for conservatives as incumbent John Faber lost to challenger Ward Cassidy. The winner will face Democrat Robert Strevey in the general election. The Chamber had endorsed Faber, who earned a Kansas Economic Freedom Index rating of 72 percent and an AFP rating of 90 percent. A resident of St. Francis, Cassidy and his wife are public school employees, and he lists education as one of his priorities. When public school employees say this, it usually means that spending on schools is a priority over everything else. His website also says he pledges to “look at every means possible to increase revenue within the state without raising taxes.”

In Kansas House District 124 (Grant, Morton, Stanton and Stevens counties, Haskell County: City of Satanta and Dudley Township, Seward County: Seward Township), incumbent Bill Light did not seek re-election. Republicans Dan Widder and J. Stephen Alford sought the Republican party nomination, with no Democrats having filed. The Chamber endorsed Widder. Alford narrowly won with 51 percent of the vote. Light was a left-wing Republican with a Kansas Economic Freedom Index rating of 11 percent. Alford, endorsed by liberal Senate President Stephen Morris (his own KEFI rating is only seven percent), can’t be much more to the left than Light.

There were a handful of instances where moderate or liberal Republicans withstood challenges by conservatives.

In Kansas House District 9 (Allen County plus parts of Woodson, Coffey, Anderson, and Franklin Counties, including the city of Iola), the Chamber selected Raymond “Bud” Sifers over incumbent Bill Otto in the Republican primary. Otto won with 56 percent of the vote. No Democrat filed. Otto is sometimes difficult to classify. He scored 60 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, but only 40 percent on AFP’s scorecard for this year after rating 82 percent the year before. This year, Otto voted against the spending bill but for the sales tax increase, the only member of the House to vote this way on these two bills.

In Kansas House District 60 (parts of Emporia) incumbent Republican Don Hill defeated challenger Daniel Buller. Hill scored a very liberal nine percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and is mentioned as one of the leaders of the left-wing Republican faction of the House that votes for spending and tax increases. Hill will face Democrat Michael “Mike” Dorcey in the general election.

In Kansas House District 64 (Clay County plus parts of Dickinson, Geary, and Riley counties) incumbent Republican Vern Swanson was challenged by Michael Musselman. Swanson won. No Democrat filed. Swanson scored 19 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.

In Kansas House District 68 (parts of Morris and Dickinson counties including Council Grove and Abilene) two-term incumbent Republican Tom J. Moxley was challenged by Calvin Seadeek Jr. Moxley has a liberal voting record, scoring 19 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index. There is no Democratic party opponent in the general election.

In Kansas House District 70 (Chase and Marion counties, plus part of Butler County) Cheryl Green challenged first-term incumbent J. Robert (Bob) Brookens (KEFI 19 percent). Brookens won with 60 percent of the vote. There was no Democratic Party filer.

In Kansas House District 71 (parts of Salina) incumbent Charlie Roth withstood a challenge by two opponents in the Republican primary. There is no Democratic Party filer. Roth scored a liberal nine percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and played a leadership role in passing the statewide smoking ban in the House of Representatives this year.

In Kansas House District 83 (Eatborough and parts of east Wichita) veteran incumbent Jo Ann Pottorff defeated conservative challenger Kyle Amos. The Chamber chose Amos for its endorsement, and Pottorff scored a low 13 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index. Sean Amore is the Democratic Party opponent in the general election.

In the Kansas Senate, there was one election this year. The appointed incumbent for Senate District 7 (In Johnson County the cities of Countryside, Fairway, Merriam, Mission, Mission Hills, Mission Woods, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Westwood, Westwood Hills, and parts of Leawood and Overland Park) is Terrie Huntington, and she faced a conservative challenge from David Harvey. Huntington’s votes for the big-spending budget and the sales tax increase earned her a Kansas Econimic Freedom Index score of 20 percent, and led to the Kansas Chamber endorsement of Harvey. Huntingon won with 54 percent of the vote.

Conservatives withstood some challengers in these districts.

In Kansas House District 13 (Eureka, Yates Center, Fredonia, Neodesha and surrounding area) the Chamber endorsed incumbent Forrest Knox over challenger Trent Forsyth in the Republican primary. No Democrat filed. Knox scored 95 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, and Forsyth was endorsed by the liberal teachers union. Knox won with 54 percent of the vote.

In Kansas House District 94 (parts of west Wichita and part of Attica, Delano, and Waco townships), incumbent conservative Joe McLeland handily defeated two challengers, including one endorsed by the liberal Wichita Eagle editorial board. There is no Democratic Party candidate in this district

In Kansas House District 121 (Graham, Sheridan, Sherman and Thomas counties), Brenda McCants challenged incumbent Jim Morrison, with no Democrat filing for the general election contest. Martin Hawver, dean of Kansas Statehouse reporters, described this as a a race “more about experience — coming up to reapportionment — than philosophy, not a moderate/conservative split.” But Morrison had the Kansas Chamber’s endorsement and a reliably conservative voting record.

Holland/Kultala ticket endorsed by Kansas Governor Parkinson

At an event this afternoon in Wichita, bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle — plus some Sam Brownback bashing — was the theme as outgoing Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson endorsed the team of Kansas Senator Tom Holland of Baldwin City and fellow Senator Kelly Kultala of Kansas City for the Democratic Party nomination for Kansas governor.

Parkinson, who became governor last year when Kathleen Sebelius took a position in the Obama cabinet, declined to seek election to his current office. The Holland/Kultala ticket will not face opposition on the August 3rd primary election ballot. The likely Republican nominees are Sam Brownback and Kansas Senator Jeff Colyer as lieutenant governor.

In his remarks, Parkinson said that Kansas has made “remarkable progress” in the last eight years in working through a recession, creating jobs, and “bringing people of all parties together.” He said that Holland would continue that work.

He told the audience that Holland is a successful businessman, experience that he said Holland’s likely opponent did not have. He said that Holland has a record of working with people of all parties, and that Holland has worked for Kansans in the legislature.

He praised Holland’s and Kultala’s role as leaders in passing the budget this year.

Parkinson said the election will be an “uphill climb,” but that a Holland/Kultala victory is possible.

Holland said that the next governor will need to work with the coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats, who he said have been leading the legislature for the last few years. He said that only he and Kultala — the “moderate and pragmatic leadership” — can continue with this tradition.

He blasted Brownback as a “career Washington politician” who deregulated the banks and “put the Kansas economy in a tailspin.” He said Brownback opposed the budget this year, and he opposed paying for the transportation plan.

He said that Brownback “sits on the extreme fringe of his party” and has no interest in working with moderate Republicans or Democrats.

In a question after the event, Parkinson expressed confidence that the increase in the sales tax that took effect today will roll back in three years as scheduled, despite the failure of a sales tax increased passed in 2002 to live up to its rollback schedule.

Parkinson also said he did not know of Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, who was recently critical of Parkinson’s decision not to seek election to his current office, saying he “left his party high and dry.” In his analysis Sabato described the Kansas Democratic party as “imploding.”


Holland makes the argument that he and Kultala are “pragmatic and moderate.” Evidence from the candidate’s voting records is different, however. In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, Holland earned a score of zero, the only senator to do so. Kultala earned a score of seven percent, earning her a tie for 36th place among the 40 senators. She voted in favor of economic freedom only once.

In a score card just released by the Kansas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, Holland again earned a score of zero percent. Kultala matched that “perfect” score.

It might seem that someone interested in bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle might vote that way just once in a while.

As to the governor’s portrayal of Holland and Kultala as leaders reaching across the aisle, background discussions with several Republican members of the Kansas Senate could produce no recollection of any significant issue where Holland or Kultala played a leadership role. Both have served in the Senate for just two years and are in the minority party.

The portrayal of Brownback as “fringe” must be examined. Brownback’s record in the U.S. Senate, according to National Journal vote ratings for 2009, places him near the middle of Senate Republicans in terms of voting for conservative positions.

Kansas Chamber makes legislative endorsements

Yesterday the Kansas Chamber Political Action Committee, an arm of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, released its endorsements for the Kansas Legislature.

In announcing its endorsements, Kansas Chamber Interim President and CEO Kent Beisner said “We are proud to endorse a group of candidates who demonstrate a pro-jobs approach to stimulating the Kansas economy and the personal leadership to form strong public policy. These individuals are committed to reducing government spending and growing jobs in Kansas.”

The release also said that the Chamber PAC endorses exceptional lawmakers and candidates who support the tenets of free enterprise. The selection process focuses solely on the core business issues that impact the state’s economy.

The complete list of endorsements may be viewed at Kansas Chamber PAC Endorsements.

The following looks at the Chamber’s endorsements in districts where there is a primary election contest and the Chamber made an endorsement. Links are to candidates’ campaign websites, where available.

One position in the Kansas Senate is up for election this year. The appointed incumbent for district 7, in northeast Johnson County, is Terrie Huntington. The Chamber endorsed her opponent. David Harvey. Huntington’s votes for the big-spending budget and the sales tax increase probably made this an easy choice for the Chamber.

In primary elections for nomination to the Kansas House of Representatives, there are several contested primary elections. Here’s who the Chamber endorsed:

In Kansas House District 3 (Pittsburg and some area to its west), the Chamber endorsed Terry Calloway over Chad Titterington in the Republican primary. The winner of the primary will face incumbent Julie Menghini in the general election.

In Kansas House District 4 (Fort Scott and areas to its north and west), the Chamber endorsed Caryn Tyson over her opponent Renee Slinkard for the Republican nomination. The winner will face incumbent Shirley Palmer in the general election. An interesting issue in the general election will be Palmer trying to explain her vote in favor of the bill that increased spending, but not for the sales tax to pay for it.

In Kansas House District 9 (Allen County plus parts of Woodson, Coffey, Anderson, and Franklin Counties, including the city of Iola), the Chamber selected Raymond “Bud” Sifers over incumbent Bill Otto in the Republican primary. No Democrat filed, so the winner of the primary is the likely next representative. This year, Otto voted against the spending bill but for the sales tax increase, the only member of the House to vote this way on these two bills.

In Kansas House District 10 (Baldwin City, Wellsville, and small portions of Ottawa and Lawrence), the Chamber selected TerriLois Gregory over Scott James Barnhart in the Republican primary. The winner will advance to face Democratic incumbent Tony Brown in the general election.

In Kansas House District 13 (Eureka, Yates Center, Fredonia, Neodesha and surrounding area) the Chamber endorsed incumbent Forrest Knox over challenger Trent Forsyth in the Republican primary. No Democrat filed.

In Kansas House District 17 (parts of Shawnee and Lenexa) the Chamber selected Kelly Meigs over one-term incumbent Jill Quigley in the Republican primary. Bryan Cox has filed as a Democrat. Quigley fared poorly on both the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and AFP’s legislative scorecard.

In Kansas House District 19 (parts of Overland Park), the Chamber endorsed Jim Denning over challenger James A. Walker Jr. Democrat Delores Furtado is the incumbent, and will face the winner of the Republican primary in the general election.

Kansas House District 20 (parts of Overland Park and Leawood) has three Republicans — Matthew D. Webb, Stephanie Sawyer Clayton, and Rob Bruchman — seeking the nomination. Rob McKnight is the lone Democratic Party filer. This is the district that Kevin Yoder is vacating as he runs for the United States Congress. The Chamber endorsed Bruchman.

In Kansas House District 29 (parts of Overland Park) the Chamber endorsed challenger Richard Downing over first-term incumbent Sheryl L. Spalding. The winner will face Democrat Doug Dowell in the general election.

In Kansas House District 41 (Leavenworth) two Republicans and one Democrat are seeking the position held by retiring Marti Crow. The Chamber endorsed Jana Taylor Goodman over Louis Klemp in the Republican primary. Nancy Bauder is the Democratic candidate.

In Kansas House District 51 (western Shawnee county and parts of Waubunsee county including Alma and Eskridge), incumbent Mike Burgess is challenged by Tyler Feeney in the Republican primary, and the Chamber endorsed Burgess. No Democrat filed.

In Kansas House District 56 (parts of Topeka), the Chamber endorsed Becky Nioce over Jack P. Wu. Democrat Annie Tietze is the incumbent, and she is the only Democrat filer.

In Kansas House District 60 (parts of Emporia) incumbent Republican Don Hill is challenged by Daniel Buller. The Chamber chose to endorse Buller. Hill scores poorly on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and AFP’s legislative scorecard and is mentioned as one of the leaders of the “left-wing Republican” faction of the House that votes for spending and tax increases. Democrat Michael “Mike” Dorcey will face the winner in the general election.

In Kansas House District 62 (Brown and Nemeha counties) Zachary D. Goodman and Randy Garber are seeking the Republican Party nomination to face incumbent Democrat Steve Lukert. The Chamber endorsed Goodman.

In Kansas House District 64 (Clay County plus parts of Dickinson, Geary, and Riley counties) incumbent Republican Vern Swanson is challenged by Michael Musselman. No Democrat filed. The Chamber endorsed Musselman. Swanson scores low on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and AFP’s legislative scorecard.

Kansas House District 65 (Junction City and parts of Geary and Wabaunsee counties) has Republicans James P. Fawcett, Ernest F. Honas, and Jack Taylor vying to face Democrat Larry Hicks to replace Barbara Craft. The Chamber did mot make an endorsement in this district.

In Kansas House District 68 (parts of Morris and Dickinson counties including Council Grove and Abilene) two-term incumbent Republican Tom J. Moxley is challenged by Calvin Seadeek Jr. The Chamber endorsed Seadeek. There is no Democratic opponent in the general election. Moxley is another low-scoring Republican on scorecards that reward votes in favor of economic freedom and fiscal conservatism.

In House District 69 (parts of Salina) Tom Arpke is challenging incumbent Republican Deena L. Horst, who has represented the district since 1995. The Chamber endorsed Arpke. Gerrett Morris — not to be confused with Garrett Morris of Saturday Night Live fame — is the lone Democratic filer.

Kansas House District 70 (Chase and Marion counties, plus part of Butler County) features Cheryl Green challenging first-term incumbent J. Robert (Bob) Brookens. Green is noted for her portrayal of “Paul Revere” on her horse at several tea party events. The Chamber endorsed Green. There was no Democratic Party filer.

In Kansas House District 71 (parts of Salina) J. Neil Jednoralski and Ronald Young are challenging incumbent Charlie Roth. The Chamber endorsed Young. There was no Democratic Party filer.

Kansas House District 82 (Derby) has Republicans Joseph Ashby, Jim Howell, and Van A. Willis seeking to oppose Democrat E.L. Lee Kinch. Incumbent Don Myers is retiring. The Chamber endorsed Howell.

Kansas House District 83 (parts of east Wichita) has veteran incumbent Jo Ann Pottorff facing a challenge by Kyle Amos. The Chamber chose Amos for its endorsement. Sean Amore is the lone Democratic Party filer. Pottorf, who has served since 1985, is a low-scoring Republican on scorecards that reward votes in favor of economic freedom and fiscal conservatism.

Kansas House District 94 (parts of west Wichita) has two Republicans — Roy “Coach” Oeser and Wade A. Waterbury — seeking to replace incumbent Joe McLeland. There is no Democratic Party candidate. The Chamber endorsed McLeland.

In Kansas House District 96 (parts of west and southwest Wichita) incumbent Republican Phil Hermanson faces a challenge from Mark S. Gietzen. The winner will face Democratic challenger Brandon Whipple in the general election. The Chamber’s endorsement in this district went to Hermanson.

Kansas House District 109 (Jewell, Mitchell, Republic and Smith counties) has incumbent long-serving Republican Clay Aurand being challenged by Trey Allen Joy. No Democrat filed. The Chamber endorsed Aurand.

In Kansas House District 110 (Osborne, Rooks and Russell counties, and part of Ellis County), Republicans (no Democrat filed in this district) Dan L. Collins, Robert D. “Bob” Miller, and Mark B. Schulte have filed for this open seat. The Chamber selected Collins for its endorsement.

In Kansas House District 115 (Clark, Gray, Meade and Ford counties, including Dodge City) long-serving and past Speaker of the House Melvin J. Neufeld faces a challenge by Garrett Love. The Chamber’s endorsement went to Neufeld. There is no Democratic Party candidate.

Kansas House District 118 (Gove, Lane, Logan, Rush, Trego, Wallace and Wichita Counties) has Robert Tilford challenging first-term incumbent Don Hineman. Hineman is a low-scoring Republican on scorecards that reward votes in favor of economic freedom and fiscal conservatism. The Chamber did not make an endorsement in this district.

Kansas House District 120 (Cheyenne, Decatur, Norton, Phillips and Rawlins counties) has incumbent John M. Faber facing a challenge from Ward Cassidy. The winner will face Democrat Robert Strevey in the general election. The Chamber endorsed Faber.

Kansas House District 121 (Graham, Sheridan, Sherman and Thomas counties) has Brenda McCants challenging incumbent Jim Morrison, with no Democrat filing for the general election contest. Morrison score well on scorecards that reward votes in favor of economic freedom and fiscal conservatism, which is probably one of the reasons he earned the Chamber’s endorsement.

In Kansas House District 122 (Greeley, Hamilton, Kearny and Scott Counties, Finney County: City of Holcomb; Townships: Ivanhoe, Sherlock, Terry, Garden City (part) and Pierceville (part), Haskell County: City of Sublette; Townships: Haskell and Lockport)) Republican incumbent Gary K. Hayzlett faces a challenge from Mark Aurand. The winner of this primary will not face a Democratic party opponent in the general election. The Chamber’s endorsement in this district went to Hayzlett.

Finally, in Kansas House District 124 (Grant, Morton, Stanton and Stevens counties, Haskell County: City of Satanta and Dudley Township, Seward County: Seward Township), incumbent Bill Light is not seeking re-election. Republicans Dan Widder and J. Stephen Alford are seeking the Republican party nomination, with no Democrats having filed. The Chamber endorsed Widder.

More coverage of the Chamber PAC’s endorsements is available at Kansas Liberty in the story Kansas Chamber signals support of pro-business 2010 candidates.

Hayek’s star on the rise, sometimes

Partly due to Glenn Beck’s interest, a book and its ideas is receiving increased attention. F.A. Hayek is the author, and The Road to Serfdom is the book.

Personally, I find the book difficult to read. An example of Hayek’s writing is from the jacket notes prepared by the author himself: “The economic freedom which is the prerequisite of any other freedom cannot be the freedom from economic care which the socialists promise us and which can be obtained only by relieving the individual at the same time of the necessity and of the power of choice: it must be the freedom of economic activity which, with the right of choice, inevitably also carries the risk and the responsibility of that right.”

Someone else might have written: “A socialist government that provides for our needs doesn’t make us free. Freedom, both economic and political, comes from having choices and the power to exercise them. With that comes responsibility and risk.”

I might suggest interested readers look to The Reader’s Digest condensed version of The Road to Serfdom, which may be purchased or read online at the Institute of Economic Affairs. The forward by Walter E. Williams is especially valuable.

(Hayek’s realization of the importance of economic freedom is one of the reasons why I named my analysis of votes of the Kansas Legislature the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.)

This week George Mason University’s Russell Roberts wrote about The Road to Serfdom in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. The article, titled Why Friedrich Hayek Is Making a Comeback and available only to subscribers, lists four of Hayek’s important ideas:

First, “[Hayek] and fellow Austrian School economists such as Ludwig Von Mises argued that the economy is more complicated than the simple Keynesian story.”

Second, Hayek recognized the Federal Reserve’s control of monetary policy as a factor in the business cycle. Applied to current events, Roberts writes: “Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s artificially low rates of 2002-2004 played a crucial role in inflating the housing bubble and distorting other investment decisions. Current monetary policy postpones the adjustments needed to heal the housing market.”

Third, “political freedom and economic freedom are inextricably intertwined. In a centrally planned economy, the state inevitably infringes on what we do, what we enjoy, and where we live.”

Fourth, “order can emerge not just from the top down but from the bottom up. … Hayek understood that the opposite of top-down collectivism was not selfishness and egotism. A free modern society is all about cooperation. We join with others to produce the goods and services we enjoy, all without top-down direction. The same is true in every sphere of activity that makes life meaningful — when we sing and when we dance, when we play and when we pray. Leaving us free to join with others as we see fit — in our work and in our play — is the road to true and lasting prosperity. Hayek gave us that map.”

In Wichita, we see the importance of economic freedom ignored — trampled upon, I might say — on a regular basis as the City of Wichita seeks to direct economic development in our town from city hall. We are entering an especially dangerous period, as the master plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita will soon be in place. This form of centralized planning by government is precisely what Hayek warns against.

Why Friedrich Hayek Is Making a Comeback

With the failure of Keynesian stimulus, the late Austrian economist’s ideas on state power and crony capitalism are getting a new hearing.

By Russ Roberts

He was born in the 19th century, wrote his most influential book more than 65 years ago, and he’s not quite as well known or beloved as the sexy Mexican actress who shares his last name. Yet somehow, Friedrich Hayek is on the rise.

When Glenn Beck recently explored Hayek’s classic, “The Road to Serfdom,” on his TV show, the book went to No. 1 on Amazon and remains in the top 10. Hayek’s persona co-starred with his old sparring partner John Maynard Keynes in a rap video “Fear the Boom and Bust” that has been viewed over 1.4 million times on YouTube and subtitled in 10 languages.

Why the sudden interest in the ideas of a Vienna-born, Nobel Prize-winning economist largely forgotten by mainstream economists?

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Schodorf – Goyle race might feature reversed roles

If Jean Schodorf captures the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, the general election contest against likely Democratic Party nominee Raj Goyle might feature a reversal of commonly-held roles.

That’s because in this year’s session of the Kansas Legislature, Schodorf, as a Kansas Senator, voted for the budget bill that increased spending and required an increase in taxes to support the spending. In this case, the main source of increased taxation is the one cent per dollar increase in the statewide sales tax that will go into effect on July 1.

At about the same time, as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, Goyle voted against both bills. Only one other House Democrat voted against the budget bill.

The usual case, of course, is that Democrats favor increased taxing and spending, while Republicans are generally opposed.

During this year’s legislative session school spending advocates said that schools have “cut to the bone,” and that without increased school spending, Kansas schoolchildren would suffer. Similar claims were made for people dependent on social services from the state. Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, agreed. He proposed the spending and sales tax increase (and a cigarette tax increase) in his state of the state address in January, and aggressively promoted both during the session.

So it would be interesting to see how Goyle would explain his votes to the usual Democrat constituencies such as, say, the Kansas National Education Association (or KNEA), the teachers union.

More evidence of the reversal of the usual positions of candidates from the two parties comes from analysis of votes during the recently-completed legislative session. In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, Schodorf scored 18%, resulting in a tie for 27th place among the 40 Kansas Senators. In the House, Goyle’s votes earned a score much more supportive of principles of economic freedom. He scored 67%, ranking 47th in a field of 125 members of the Kansas House.

On scorecards produced by Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, things again are upside-down. Schodorf’s rating was 25%, while Goyle scored a rating of 60%, which is more in align with AFP’s promotion of limited government and free markets.

Schodorf’s votes are not out of line with her history. Goyle’s votes this year are more conservative than his past votes, leading us to wonder if there was a bit of election-year window-dressing going on as Goyle prepared for his campaign for Congress.

AFP Kansas legislative scorecards released

The Kansas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity has released its legislative scorecards for the 2010 session of the Kansas Legislature. These scorecards rank members of the Kansas House and Senate by the way they voted on selected legislation and amendments.

AFP’s scorecards use a different mix of votes than my Kansas Economic Freedom Index, although judging by just a quick glance, the results appear to be similar. Between the two tools Kansans should be able to get a good picture of where their representatives rank in terms of voting for issues of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and economic freedom.

Past issues of AFP scorecards are available at Kansas legislative scorecards, rankings. Also see Kansas Economic Freedom Index.

Kansas Democrats described as ‘imploding’

Larry J. Sabato, who is director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, is a respected national political analyst who publishes Sabato’s Crystal Ball, an informative look at campaigns and races around the country.

In the most recent issue Sabato takes a look at 2010 gubernatorial races and concludes that “There’s now no question that the gubernatorial turnover in November will be historic.” He estimates that Republicans will add six or seven states to the count of those states with Republican governors.

In Kansas, Sabato is pointed in his criticism of Kansas Democrats and Governor Mark Parkinson:

Kansas: Gov. Mark Parkinson (D), who succeeded Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) when she joined President Obama’s Cabinet as Health and Human Services secretary, has left his party high and dry. He refused to run in 2010, and to add insult to injury, he picked as his new lieutenant governor a Democrat who also pledged not to run. Despite a respectable Democratic candidate in Tom Holland, the election is all but over. Republicans will re-take the governor’s office with current U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback. This is a remarkable example of the governing political party imploding. The GOP can count this one as in the bag.

Sabato rates Kansas as a “solid Republican takeover.”

While Sabato describes Kansas Senator Tom Holland as “respectable,” if Holland was attempting to use his votes in the senate this year to establish a record that might appeal to moderates, he failed in that effort. In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, Holland is the only senator who scored 0%, meaning that voted against economic freedom in all votes considered by this index.

While it may be that the Kansas Democratic party is imploding, it has done very well in placing its members in statewide office. Considering Kansas statewide elected offices, five of the six are held by Democrats, and none were elected to their current positions.

Governor Parkinson, while elected lieutenant governor in 2006, rose to his present position when Kathleen Sebelius resigned as governor to take a position in President Obama’s cabinet.

Lieutenant Governor Troy Findley was appointed by Parkinson to replace himself.

Secretary of State Chriss Biggs was appointed by Parkinson when Republican Ron Thornburgh resigned earlier this year.

Attorney General Stephen Six was appointed by Sebelius when the incumbent, a Republican-turned-Democrat resigned.

Treasurer Dennis McKinney was appointed by Sebelius to replace Republican Lynn Jenkins, who won election to the United States Congress.

On the Kansas Supreme Court, there are three Republicans and three Democrats, with one Justice being unaffiliated, according to a Kansas Liberty story. In 2005, an analysis by the Kansas Meadowlark had the breakdown as five Democrats and two Republicans.

Raj Goyle attacked from left

In the Kansas House of Representatives this year, Raj Goyle, a Wichita Democrat who is a candidate for that party’s nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas made a few votes that were out of character for him, based on his past record.

In particular, Goyle voted against the bill that increased spending, mostly for schools and social services, and against the bill that raised the statewide sales tax in order to pay for that spending. These votes allowed Goyle to obtain the relatively high ranking of 67% on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index. In rankings for previous years, first produced by the Kansas Taxpayers Network and then Americans for Prosperity-Kansas, his ratings were in 2009: 9%, 2008: 38%, and 2007: 41%.

Kansas fourth district voters who are interested in a conservative representative in Congress who will work for limited government probably aren’t fooled by Goyle’s apparent election-year transformation. He’s trying, though. As noted earlier this year, Goyle’s campaign website doesn’t mention his party affiliation.

Not everyone is happy with Goyle’s votes this year in the Kansas legislature. The following letter in today’s Wichita Eagle criticized Goyle from the left for not voting to raise taxes to fund increased government spending. It seems like no one knows the real Raj Goyle and what he believes.

Explain vote

We should require that state Rep. Raj Goyle, D-Wichita, who is running for the 4th Congressional District seat, give an explanation as to why he voted against raising our state sales tax. In voting “no,” Goyle showed a callous disregard for helping our public schools and those individuals with disabilities.

A true Democrat, as was shown by our governor, makes sure that children and vital services for the poor are not left behind in the budget-cutting process.

What was Goyle’s motive for voting against the sales tax? Is it possible he would do anything to get elected, even if it means abandoning the core principles of his party? Or was his vote one of pure political expediency in trying to fool the public into thinking that he is not a real Obama-type liberal?


Bill Light, facing conservative challenger, withdraws Kansas House bid

The Kansas Republican Assembly blog reports on the withdrawal of Kansas House of Representatives member Bill Light from consideration for re-election.

In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for the 2010 legislative session, Light’s score was 11%, meaning that he did not vote in favor of economic freedom very often. Only five Republicans scored worse than him. He definitely qualifies as a “left-wing Republican,” to use a term coined by Kansas Liberty.

State Representative Bill Light withdrew his candidacy for re-election to the Kansas House May 12. Light was facing a strong conservative challenge in the August primary by Dan Widder of Ulysses.

In a Hutchinson News article, Light claimed that his retirement had nothing to do with his conservative challenger, even claiming that he didn’t know Widder. However, the article notes that Light filed for re-election in January and told the Hutchinson News in November that he liked to file in January before the start of a legislative session, “so that all will know my intentions.”

Continue reading at the Kansas Republican Assembly blog.

Kansas Economic Freedom Index updated

Now that the 2010 session of the Kansas Legislature is over (except for a largely ceremonial final day) and the important votes have been cast, I’ve updated the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.

Most legislators ranked just about as expected based on their past behavior. But there is at least one notable exception, that being Raj Goyle, a Wichita Democrat who is seeking that party’s nomination for the United States Congress. His rating for this year is 67%. No House Democrat scored higher than that, and 30 House Republicans scored lower.

Goyle’s votes this year are out of character with his past voting behavior, and must be attributed to preparing to run for Congress against a likely fiscally conservative Republican nominee.

I’ve received criticism from one lobbyist concerning the way I prepared this index. The specific criticism related to using votes taken in “committee of the whole” action rather than at the time of final action. The lobbyist said that if a person voted for (or against) a bill in final action, that is the only vote that should be used in an index like what I’ve created.

The problem is that sometimes close votes in the committee of the whole turn into near unanimous votes in final action. The committee of the whole vote, therefore, provides discriminating power that the final action vote does not.

Further, every recorded vote (not all committee of the whole votes are recorded) are public record, and legislators know that their vote is recorded in the journal of the House or the Senate for anyone to see.

When I decided to prepare the Kansas Economic Freedom Index I knew, and was advised by several people with knowledge of how legislatures work, that I needed to use preliminary votes or final action votes as needed in order to distinguish legislative positions. After receiving this criticism, I talked to these people and others — members of the legislature, legislative staff members, lobbyists, and others — and confirmed that my actions are correct.

I’ve also received criticism for some of the bills that I’ve included. For example, I included H. Sub. for Sub. SB 514, better known as the Community Defense Act. This bill includes detailed regulation of the conduct that may take place inside sexually oriented businesses. It also includes limitations on where these businesses may be located, specifically not within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, state-licensed day care facility, libraries, parks, and residences. These types of restrictions on conduct between consenting adults, as well as the centralized planning that the zoning restrictions implement, are contrary to both personal and economic freedom.

Kansas is a Republican, not conservative, state

A recent editorial prepared by the Kansas Republican Party concluded with: “Kansas Republicans are presenting a united front with sound plans to meet the challenges of a 21st century economy. Our philosophy centers on liberating the promise of the individual and family as the answer, not more government growth, on a path to prosperity.”

That’s a fiscally conservative message. The practice of many Kansas Republicans, however, is far removed from this message advocating limited government. Kansas Republicans, especially the Senate leadership, are working to increase taxes in Kansas in a way that leads to more government growth at the expense of many thousands of private sector jobs in favor of government jobs.

It starts with Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson. Although he is a Democrat, it was not long ago he was a Republican, even holding the chairmanship of the Kansas Republican Party. In his State of the State address in January, Parkinson proposed a temporary once cent on the dollar increase in the sales tax and an increase in cigarette taxes. Although the majority of the sales tax is pitched to Kansans as a temporary measure, these temporary taxes have a nasty habit of becoming permanent.

In the Senate, the leadership trio of President Stephen Morris, Vice President John Vratil, and Majority Leader Derek Schmidt agree with the governor that increasing taxes is the way to balance the Kansas budget. In particular, Vratil imported a California law that taxes the sugar content of soda pop. The California law had the benefit that the tax revenue would go towards promoting childhood health. In Kansas, the revenue would go to the general fund.

In both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Republicans hold a majority of seats. But many Republicans do not vote a conservative position on taxes and spending. At a recent legislative forum, Representative Ray Merrick, who is House Majority Leader, explained the political reality in the House. There are 76 Republican members of the House, but Merrick said that on the “very best day” there are 55 who will vote with him, meaning they are conservative Republicans. 63 votes are required to pass legislation in the House.

Who are these legislators that belong to the Republican party but don’t vote with conservatives on issues of taxation and spending? According to rankings prepared by Americans For Prosperity-Kansas, for the 2009 session of the Kansas Legislature, the Democrat with the highest (most fiscally conservative) ranking is Jerry Williams, with a ranking of 55%. There are 11 Republicans who rank equivalent or lower than this. Their names are:

Jill Quigley of Lenexa,
Sheryl Spalding of Overland Park,
Kay Wolf of Prairie Village,
Ron Worley of Lenexa,
Terrie Huntington (now in the Kansas Senate) of Fairway,
Jo Ann Pottorf of Wichita,
Tom Sloan of Lawrence,
Don Hill of Emporia,
Bob Brookens of Marion,
Barbara Craft of Junction City, and
Charles Roth of Salina.

For the Senate, a similar analysis is clouded by the presence of Democrat Chris Steineger, who is an outlier among Democrats for his consistent votes in favor of fiscal restraint and taxpayers. But some of the worst-ranking Republicans are these:

Jean Schodorf of Wichita,
Pete Brungardt of Salina,
Stephen Morris of Hugoton, who is President of the Senate,
Tim Owens of Overland Park,
Roger Reitz of Manhattan,
Derek Schmidt of Independence, who is Senate Majority Leader,
Vicki Schmidt of Topeka, and
John Vratil of Leawood, who is Vice President of the Senate.

The Kansas Economic Freedom Index, a new project of mine, will also let us learn who votes in favor of economic freedom and against big government, no matter what their party affiliation indicates.