The Blog

Historic buildings bill on tap

Historic buildings bill on tap

A bill designed to protect two buildings in downtown Wichita has a legislative hearing this week. Last year a citizen group gathered signatures on a petition that would prevent the City of Wichita from disposing of two downtown buildings without an approving vote of a majority of citizens. Based on having the required number of valid signatures, the petition was certified as valid. But the city sued to have the petition thrown out, contending the petition went beyond what Kansas law allows as the subject of municipal petitions. A judge agreed with the city. Now the group has a bill…
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Naftzger Park event management agreement still ambiguous

Naftzger Park event management agreement still ambiguous

This week the Wichita City Council will update an agreement from last year, but it appears important issues were not addressed. Last February the City of Wichita approved an agreement with a local business to manage events at Naftzger Park. With the pandemic upending public events, the business -- Wave Old Town, LLC -- was unable to program any events. Therefore, the city wants to add additional time to the agreement. During the delay, the city could have addressed problems with the original agreement. Some problems concern the bidding process. My concern was the uncertainty in the profit-sharing agreement, which…
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Say no to special tax treatment, again

Say no to special tax treatment, again

In Kansas, a company seeks to avoid paying property taxes, again. In a bill presented in the Kansas Legislature, the owner of health clubs seeks to avoid paying property taxes. The same company and its owner have tried this before. In 2014, I explained how granting this exemption was a bad idea. What has changed since then? This exemption is still a bad idea for reasons of public policy. Additionally, Brandon Steven, the owner of the health clubs, plead guilty to a gambling charge and forfeited one million dollars in earnings. The companies also owe a lot of the tax…
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GDP by metropolitan area and component

GDP by metropolitan area and component

An interactive visualization of gross domestic product by metropolitan area and industry. The Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, gathers data about economic output, known as gross domestic product. The visualization I have created presents this data in tabular and graphic form. (more…)
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National employment, January 2021

National employment, January 2021

The unemployment rate fell in January 2021, but job growth was weak, and the December value was revised. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, reported the closely-followed jobs number rose in January 2021 by 49,000 jobs from the prior month. The unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 6.4 percent. BLS notes that the total nonfarm employment level is "below its February 2020 level by 9.9 million, or 6.5 percent." The summary report from BLS may be found here. Of note: BLS revised recent figures, which it does as more data becomes available.…
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Wichita jobs and employment, December 2020

Wichita jobs and employment, December 2020

For the Wichita metropolitan area in December 2020, the number of unemployed persons is up, the unemployment rate is up, and the number of people working is down when compared to the same month one year ago. The recent trend, however, is mixed. (more…)
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Kansas tax revenue, January 2021

Kansas tax revenue, January 2021

For January 2021, total Kansas tax revenue was 9.7 percent greater than January 2020. Over the seven months of the current fiscal year, tax revenue is 15.5 percent higher than at the same point of the previous fiscal year. (more…)
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Kansas agency revenue

Kansas agency revenue

Data regarding State of Kansas agency revenue presented in an interactive visualization, with data through fiscal year 2020. The source of this data is KanView, the Kansas transparency portal, through its download center. Data from multiple years are combined into one database. Data starts with fiscal year 2011. (more…)
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Kansas agency expenditures

Kansas agency expenditures

Data regarding State of Kansas agency spending presented in an interactive visualization. The source of this data is KanView, the Kansas transparency portal, through its download center. Data from multiple years are combined into one database. Data starts with fiscal year 2011. (more…)
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Kansas jobs, December 2020

Kansas jobs, December 2020

In Kansas for December 2020, the labor force shrank while the number of people working rose, resulting in a drop in the unemployment rate. Data released today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows a mixed employment picture in Kansas for December 2020. (more…)
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Kansas unemployment claims are high and rising

Kansas unemployment claims are high and rising

A visualization of unemployment insurance claims by state, adjusted for population, shows Kansas as an outlier among states. The number of people filing for unemployment insurance each week is a useful indicator of the condition of the economy. I present this data for each state and the nation in an interactive visualization. Because states vary widely in their population (the most populous state has 68 times the population of the least populous), I've cast the data as claims per thousand residents of each state. (more…)
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