In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: A look at some economic development incentive programs in Wichita and Kansas. First in a series. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 218, broadcast November 18, 2018.
Industrial revenue bonds in Kansas: Industrial Revenue Bonds are a mechanism that Kansas cities and counties use to allow companies to avoid paying property and sales taxes.
For 2017, personal income in Wichita rose, but slower than the national rate.
Today Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, released personal income figures for metropolitan areas through the complete year 2017. For the Wichita metropolitan statistical area, personal income in 2017 rose from the 2016 level in nominal dollars, and is now slightly less than the 2104 level.
For all metropolitan areas in the United States, personal income rose by 4.5 percent. For the Wichita metro area, the increase was 2.3 percent. Of 383 metropolitan areas, Wichita’s growth rate was at position 342.
While the Wichita area has kept up with national personal income growth and even surpassed it in some years, that is no longer the case. Wichita’s income has stalled while national income continues to grow.
An interactive visualization of Kansas school salaries by district and category.
This visualization holds salaries of Kansas school superintendents, principals, and teachers. The visualization shows the average for each of these categories for each school district. The values are adjusted for inflation to the most current year values. Some data is presented on a per-pupil basis using full-time equivalent student counts.
The visualization includes both tables and charts. The source of the data is Kansas State Department of Education for salaries and enrollments, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics for price levels, and author’s calculations.
Statement to Sedgwick County Commission
By Karl Peterjohn
As a Sedgwick County citizen and taxpayer, I have been distressed to see news reports about the scandals, FBI and other legal investigations, that involve this county commission. The details of this appalling topic shall remain for another day.
Today, I am here to praise four county employees who deserve public commendation.
On May 12, 1962, five star General-of-the-army, Douglas MacArthur, an army officer during World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, gave his famous speech to the army cadets at the West Point military academy. MacArthur, then in the twilight of his life, used the hallowed phrase, “duty, honor, country,” the motto of West Point, in speaking of the obligations that exist for army leaders; past, present, and future.
I believe that, “Duty, honor, country,” should not be limited to only our military leaders. General MacArthur said, “… teach you … not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm,” and MacArthur goes on to say, “… that the very obsession of public service must be duty, honor, country.”
General Michael Scholes epitomizes “duty, honor, country.” I repeatedly saw this demonstrated during the years that I had the privilege of working with him while serving on this commission, as well as more recently as he continues to demonstrate his personal integrity.
While Judge Yost enjoys the same amount of military experience that I possess, and that is none, his distinguished public work, whether it was at the White House over 40 years ago, over a decade of service in both houses of the Kansas legislature including serving as a leader in the Kansas senate, and almost 20 years on the district court bench personifies, “duty, honor, country.”
General Scholes and Judge Yost are distinguished men of achievement, who possess the diligence, competence, and most importantly, integrity, that I stand to recognize this morning.
Last week this commission voted 3-2 in another direction. I rise today to thank both commissioners, Jim Howell and Richard Ranzau for voting against the motion to place Judge Yost on leave.
I also want to praise commissioners Howell and Ranzau for their efforts to provide transparency in this county, as well as protecting taxpayers while providing efficient public services. Howell and Ranzau are pillars of integrity during these county commission scandals. This needs recognition, and I proudly provide as much as this citizen can do.
These are four men — General Scholes, Judge Yost, Commissioner Howell, and Commissioner Ranzau — are personifying MacArthur’s hallowed words of, “duty, honor, country.”
As a former Sedgwick County commissioner, I would conclude by recommending that this county commission now proceed to move to receive and file this commendation.
For video of Peterjohn delivering these remarks at the Sedgwick County Commission meeting on November 14, 2018, click here.
In the second quarter of 2018, the Kansas economy grew at the annual rate of 4.7 percent, the seventh-best rate in the nation.
In the second quarter of 2018, the Kansas economy grew at the annual rate of 4.7 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars, according to statistics released today by Bureau of Economic Analysis, a division of the United States Department of Commerce. GDP for the quarter was at the annual rate of $164,018 million.
This is a sharp jump in the rate of growth from the first quarter of 2018, when the rate was 0.5 percent, with only three states having lower rates.
Quarterly GDP growth for states can be volatile, as shown in the nearby chart.
For Kansas, industries that differed markedly from the state average include agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, and durable goods manufacturing. The nearby table shows more industries.
Click here to view the freshest edition of the newsletter from Voice For Liberty. This edition is dated November 11, 2018.
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By Michael Austin
Director, Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government
With a new Kansas Governor-elect and State Legislature, Kansans voted to make a change. Despite many elections however, the Kansas economy has been slowing for the past 40 years. While the new administration cites government as the solution to this problem, history shows that government is primarily the cause. Kansans need of a new way of thinking. They won’t get that from a Democrat or Republican as governor.
Kansas has had a storied life in celebrating freedom and improving its quality of life. Through our abolitionist beginnings to creative developments in industry, Kansas led in economic freedom with Wichita at its center. Legendary Wichitan entrepreneur Colby Sandlian got started in the 1950s, noticing permits for single-family homes averaging 150 a week. At the time, local government zoning staff had fewer than 10 employees. Today, Wichita averages around 45 permits a week with a local government zoning staff of near 50 individuals. While other factors have been at play in Wichita, economic vitality and government bureaucracy seem to have an opposing relationship.
Kansas families are nearly $12,000 poorer than the national average with 172,000 fewer available jobs. Like Wichita, with this sluggish growth, Kansas has more government jobs than the national average. Government is essential to a civilized society, but it can only act through taxes taken from Kansans. The bigger the government, the bigger the burden on families and commerce.
Kansans can’t keep up with inflation because government growth limits employers’ ability to attract qualified employees. Kansas government growth also creates and supports monopolies; forcing low-income consumers to pay higher prices for goods and services. Worst of all, Kansas government growth forces around 10,000 Kansans a year to abandon the state. Other states and countries that provide similar governmental services with fewer taxes entice Kansans to leave. This is likely to get worse under an ObamaCare expansion and record government spending growth, financed with high taxes.
We can give Kansans tools to demand their government return more choices and change course. For this reason, the Kansas Policy Institute created the Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government. It captures the observation above and the entrepreneurial spirit needed to make Kansas a better place to live and work.
Reversing economic immobility, we will show where Kansas is headed if government taxes and spends. We’ll advise how government can better listen to Kansans, helping them keep more of what they earn while enacting the best policy to grow private wages and jobs. We’ll provide pathways to sensible regulations, ensuring public safety and encouraging new innovative businesses to keep prices low for Kansans. Most importantly, we’ll teach public organizations to provide better services at a better price to reverse the trend of out-migration seen in Kansas and Wichita.
For Kansans to live closer to the American dream, they need a responsive government that allows more opportunities and ensures their tax dollars are spent wisely. Politicians come and go, but the principles that can make this a reality never change.
Michael Austin is the Director of the Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government at the Kansas Policy Institute. In this role he is responsible for educating public organizations and the public on taxes and budget, using economic research to turn government inefficiencies into effective policy solutions. Before joining the Sandlian Center, Michael served as an economist in various roles of Kansas state government. As an adviser to former Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Michael’s work made him the first to discover the drop in commodity and energy prices that plagued Kansas and the region, later termed “The Rural Recession.” Most recently as Chief Economist in the Kansas Department of Revenue, his research and presentation on the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and its effects on Kansans jumpstarted discussions ensuring it will be a key concern in the upcoming Kansas legislative session.
Michael is a New York City transplant, living with his wife and two children in the Lawrence Area. Michael is a Washburn University School of Business Scholar earning his Bachelor of Business Administration and double majored in management and economics. Michael also graduated from the University of Kansas’s Department of Economics with a Master of Arts with honors. Email Michael at [email protected].
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Wichita State University Political Science Professor Mel Kahn speaking on the results of the 2018 General Election. This informative and entertaining presentation was recorded on November 9, 2018. Introduction was by Dalton Glasscock.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Bob and Karl look at election results nationally, in Kansas, and in Sedgwick County. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 217, broadcast November 11, 2018.
Election results at Politico. This is one of the best sites for analysis of election results.
For the Wichita metropolitan area in September 2018, jobs are up, the labor force is up, and the unemployment rate is down, compared to the same month one year ago.
Data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows an improving employment situation for the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The best numbers for Wichita are the total nonfarm employment series, which rose from 294,400 last September to 299,600 this September. That’s an increase of 5,200 jobs, or 1.8 percent. (This data is not seasonally adjusted, so month-to-month comparisons are not valid.)
The unemployment rate fell to 3.3 percent, down from 3.9 percent one year ago.
Considering seasonally adjusted data from the household survey, the labor force rose by 1,315 persons (0.4 percent) in September 2018 from August 2018, the number of unemployed persons fell by 398 (3.6 percent), and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent from 3.6 percent. The number of employed persons not working on farms rose to 298,510 in September from 296,797 the prior month, an increase of 1,713 persons, or 0.6 percent.
Click here to view the freshest edition of the newsletter from Voice For Liberty. This edition is dated November 5, 2018.
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The Sedgwick County Commission scandals are an outrage for me. I must speak out against the appalling revelations that provide explicit evidence of illegal misconduct in our county government, writes Karl Peterjohn.
Déjà vu scandals in Sedgwick County government
By Karl Peterjohn
During the Watergate scandal the press repeatedly stated that the campaign break-in was not the primary crime, but the cover up involving the White House was. These scandals eventually led to criminal convictions, and ultimately, to the resignation of the president.
Sedgwick County government now appears to have multi-part scandals. It is not clear whether these scandals will result in convictions and resignations, but these scandals are growing.
The November 2, 2018 news conference held by the attorney for county counselor Eric Yost revealed that the FBI investigation that initially began with Commissioner O’Donnell has now grown to involve two other commissioners, David Unruh and David Dennis. Commissioner O’Donnell has been indicted on a number of felony charges, and is now awaiting a January 2019 trial in federal court. He has refused to resign from the commission.
Mr. Yost revealed at his news conference that in the wake of the initial O’Donnell scandal, an effort was being made by these three commissioners, O’Donnell, Unruh, and Dennis, to remove county manager Scholes from his position. Scholes’ mistake was cooperating with the FBI in the initial criminal investigation of Commissioner O’Donnell.
Mr. Yost’s problem with the three commissioners seems to have been pointing out the improper conduct by these three commissioners concerning Mr. Scholes, and in doing so, trying to protect Sedgwick County from this improper and illegal conduct. In doing so, Yost was trying to prevent the county from being exposed to legal liabilities for this outrageous misconduct occurring in the on-going effort to fire county manager Scholes. This misconduct is the latest scandalous revelation. This misconduct could lead to further criminal charges against these three members of the county commission.
The FBI refuses to respond to press inquiries of what or who they are investigating. However, we now know that the FBI is investigating commissioners at the Sedgwick County courthouse. Mr. Yost revealed Friday that he spent a total of 3.5 hours being interviewed by FBI agents on two occasions. The FBI has also interviewed other county employees.
It is also clear that the other two members of the county commission, Richard Ranzau and Jim Howell, were not participants in the commission majority’s egregious misconduct. Sadly, election mailers and campaign material from their political opponents, or their political allies, are claiming that is not the case. Both Ranzau and Howell have behaved in an exemplary way concerning this situation and deserve public praise, not the misinformation that occurs all too often in today’s political environment.
Ranzau has been especially outspoken in condemning his three colleagues who have created this ongoing scandal that will stretch well beyond election day. While information from Yost’s news conference was a front-page story in the November 3 Wichita Eagle, it is not clear that the local news media’s coverage will focus here for very long. Courthouse scandals usually have the potential to impact an election, but not in this case. Commissioner Unruh is retiring, and Dennis and O’Donnell aren’t on the 2018 election ballot.
Much of this information would not have become public if it hadn’t been for Commissioner Dennis’ public comments criticizing Mr. Yost. Commissioner Dennis’ criticism of Mr. Yost created a way to reveal a lot more information about this part of the commission majority’s scandal. However, a great deal more information remains to be revealed. I believe that more criminal charges are likely.
Where does this county scandal stand right now?
Commissioner Unruh will be leaving office in early January, but the ethical and legal cloud over his head will remain. His county commission record will be deeply tarnished regardless of how long it takes to resolve these scandals. Unruh has already been exposed as petty, vindictive, and guilty of scandalous misconduct.
Commissioner Dennis made a huge blunder in publicly criticizing the county commission’s chief lawyer. It is now clear that Mr. Yost, a former district court judge as well as elected official, has a law degree and Commissioner Dennis doesn’t. By criticizing Yost, Dennis unintentionally provided the legal means for revealing a portion of the FBI investigation of these three commissioners, details of the misconduct allegations, and revealing important county information that had not been on the public record. Commissioner Dennis has expanded these scandals with his bluster from the commission bench.
Both Unruh and Dennis could eventually end up following Commissioner O’Donnell into federal court as defendants. Commissioner O’Donnell remains at the center of this scandal with his pending criminal charges. I hope that the wheels of justice move quickly. I believe that it is possible, with the new information revealed last week, that Commissioner O’Donnell may face additional charges that expand his already sizable federal indictments.
This situation is bad for Sedgwick County and our community. These scandals could eventually generate other investigations, possibly by the Kansas attorney general.
In 2016, candidate David Dennis was successful in defeating me in the hard-fought primary election battle for the third district GOP county commission nomination. Mr. Dennis won the general election. He became a county commissioner in January 2017. This year, Commissioner Dennis was elected by his commission colleagues to chair the commission.
I know all five commissioners in varying ways as well as the county staff who served with me during the eight years, from 2009 to 2017, that I was a county commissioner. It was an honor and privilege to serve on the county commission. Mr. Scholes and Mr. Yost are two of the best public servants I had the privilege to work with while I was on the commission. Their ethics and integrity are exemplary.
These scandals are an outrage for me. I must speak out against the appalling revelations that provide explicit evidence of illegal misconduct in our county government.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Robert L. Bradley, Jr. He is CEO and Founder of Institute for Energy Research, visiting fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, and an adjunct scholar at both the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. His topic at the Pachyderm Club was “The Contra-Capitalist Corporation (In Search of Heroic Capitalism).” This audio recording was made on November 2, 2018. The accompanying visual presentation may be viewed here.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Karl Peterjohn and Bob Weeks provide a preview of the congressional and gubernatorial election for the Wichita area in November 2018. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 216, broadcast November 4, 2018.
In normal times, Republicans may be reluctant to vote for a Democrat for the Sedgwick County Commission. But these are not normal times, and a vote for Pete Meitzner sends a message that we just don’t care about our economy.
If you’ve been following analyst James Chung — and it seems like everyone has — he’s delivered a sobering message: The Wichita economy has not been growing. “[Wichita has been] stuck in neutral for about three decades, with basically no growth, amidst the landscape of a growing U.S. economy,” he said. (In 2017 the Wichita economy shrank from the previous year.)
Chung says we need to change our ways. In his June visit he said, and the Chung Report wrote, “Every market signal points to the same conclusion: The manner in which Wichita is operating during this critical point in our history is just not working.”
So what needs to change? Chung doesn’t say, but here are two things:
First, there are some elected officials and bureaucrats who have presided over the stagnation of the Wichita-area economy. These people need to go.
That sounds good, but under the hood it’s the same leadership and the same methods, although with a few new hired hands.
So when James Chung (and others) says our manner of operation is not working, it’s the Wichita Chamber of Commerce and its ecosystem that must assume a large portion of blame.
That Chamber ecosystem is pumped up and funded by the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County. Bureaucrats and elected officials on those bodies who have supported these economic development efforts must be dismissed.
Why should voters reject Pete Meitzner? That’s a good question, because on his campaign web page he promotes his experience: “Pete’s seven years on the City Council has proven to be a large part of the positive momentum we have recently experienced.”
He’s endorsed by the retiring county commissioner he seeks to replace. Again, from his campaign page, there’s this from Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh: “Pete displays leadership that produces results. We need to only look to the City of Wichita’s recent successes to see the type of leadership Meitzner is capable of. His enthusiasm and business-minded approach to challenges has greatly helped create the positive momentum that Wichita experiences today. Sedgwick County needs Meitzner’s leadership.”
Let’s compare these claims to the record. Nearby is a chart of nonfarm jobs in the Wichita metropolitan area. I’ve identified when Unruh and Meitzner took office. As you can see, when Unruh took office there had been a downturn. But the Wichita economy improved, although slower than the national economy.
When Meitzner took his position on the city council, there had also been a downtown. The national economy recovered. But the Wichita-area economy has not recovered. As time passes, the gap between the Wichita and national economy grows.
There are other indicators besides jobs that illustrate the performance of the Wichita-area economy. Gross Domestic Product, the total value of everything produced, has fallen.
Real personal income fell in 2016, the last year for which there is data. Over the years, its growth in Wichita has been slower than most other areas.
Is the record of Dave Unruh relevant when considering whether to vote for Pete Meitzner? Yes. Meitzner praises Unruh’s record: “His (Unruh’s) legacy of 16 years of professionalism … has been many successes and often the calm in the storm that’s been of recent,” Meitzner said. “There’s a strong feeling in the community that what we’re doing in the city and in the region is really moving in the right direction. I can help the county have our oars in the water going the same way as the whole region.” (“Wichita City Council member hopes to become calming force on County Commission” Wichita Eagle, February 13, 2018.)
Except: the legacy of Unruh in economic development is stagnation and falling behind, as is Meitzner’s record on the city council. As for “professionalism” and “calm in the storm,” we must take notice that the FBI is investigating Unruh for “potential obstruction of justice based on possible whistleblower retaliation.” (“FBI investigating possible obstruction of justice in Sedgwick County Commission” Wichita Eagle, October 23, 2018.)
Despite all the evidence, Meitzner is running on his record. His campaign literature says he is committed to “Maintaining his track record of successful ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.” He praises the Wichita city manager, the city bureaucracy, and our economic development machinery for doing a good job. He believes these are doing the right thing.
This demonstrates another problem. Besides presiding over our region’s poor economic performance, Meitzner (and Unruh) do not acknowledge the problem. To them, there is “momentum.” We’re “really moving in the right direction,” Meitzner says.
For someone to say these things, they must be either blissfully ignorant, a blatant liar, or someone who wants to be in office so badly that they’ll say anything to be elected.
Republicans may be reluctant to vote for a Democrat for the Sedgwick County Commission. In normal times, I am too. But these are not normal times, and a vote for Pete Meitzner sends a message that we just don’t care about our economy.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau explains the current problems with corruption in the county. Then, Renee Duxler tells us why she’s running for Sedgwick County Commission. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 215, broadcast October 28, 2018.
For September 2018, more jobs in Kansas than last September, but fewer than in August.
Data released this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows an improving jobs picture for Kansas in Seotember 2018.
Over the year (September 2017 to September 2018), the Kansas labor force is up slightly, and also rising slightly over the past three months. These changes are small, all being in the range of 0.1 percent or less.
The number of unemployed persons continues to fall, declining by 1.3 percent from July to August. The unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in September, down from 3.6 percent from one year ago, and unchanged from August.
The number of Kansas nonfarm jobs for September 2018 rose by 1.4 percent over last September, adding 19,600 jobs. This is using seasonally adjusted data, and the non-adjusted figure is slightly larger at 20,600.
From August 2018 to September 2018, nonfarm employment in Kansas fell by 6,900, which is 0.5 percent.
Of the condition of highways, the report notes: “Since the data was first collected in 1983, the percentage of pavement surface in good condition has appreciably increased while the percentage of poor pavement has significantly decreased.”
Here’s a chart of the conditions of Kansas roads and highways. 2 It shows that, for interstate highways, the percent of the system in good condition has been pretty level since 2001, although there is a slight decline recently that is within the range of normal year-to-year variation. For non-interstate highways, the percent in good condition fell starting in 2004, but has rebounded, with a small decline in the most recent year.
Based on these charts, there’s no factual basis to claim that Kansas roads and highways are deteriorating or crumbling.
KDOT notes that the condition report “…also shows that while the last few years have been challenging due to very tight budgets, KDOT and its partners continue to find means to maintain the pavement surface condition.” The most recent financial report from KDOT shows that spending on preservation has fallen significantly the past three years, while spending on maintenance has been level. 3