Category Archives: Kansas state government

Kansans voted for growth, not stagnation

Kansans voted for growth, not stagnation

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, Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government
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 Pachyderm: Kansas House candidates

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Republican candidates for the Kansas House of Representatives. Appearing, in initial speaking order, were:

  • Steven Kelly, 72nd District (map of district)
  • Cheryl Helmer, 79th District (map)
  • J.C. Moore, 93rd District (map)
  • Susan Humphries, 99th District (map)

This was recorded on October 19, 2018.

From left, J.C. Moore, Cheryl Helmer, Steven Kelly, and Susan Humphries. Click for larger.

Kansas highway pavement conditions

What is the condition of Kansas highways?

Each year the Kansas Department of Transportation surveys the condition of highway pavement and issues a report called the Network Optimization System (NOS) Survey. 1

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.”

Kansas Highway Conditions, through 2017. Click for larger.
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


Notes

  1. Kansas Department of Transportation. Pavement Management Information System (PMIS). Available at https://www.ksdot.org/bureaus/matreslab/pmis/reports.asp.
  2. Kansas Department of Transportation. 2017 Kansas NOS Condition Survey Report. Available at https://www.ksdot.org/Assets/wwwksdotorg/bureaus/matResLab/pmis/2017/CSR2017_SW.pdf.
  3. Weeks, Bob. Kansas highway spending. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/kansas-government/kansas-highway-spending-2018/.

Kansas highway spending

A look at actual spending on Kansas highways, apart from transfers.

KDOT spending, major road programs. Click for larger.
KDOT spending, total road programs. Click for larger.
KDOT transfers. Click for larger.
KDOT funding sources, partial. Click for larger.
When we look at actual spending on Kansas roads and highways, we see something different from what is commonly portrayed. Kansas Department of Transportation publishes a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report that details spending in four categories. These figures represent actual spending on roads and highways, independent of transfers to or from the highway fund.

For fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30, 2018, spending on two categories (Maintenance and Modernization) rose slightly from the year before, while spending on the categories Preservation and Expansion and Enhancement fell.

For these four categories — which represent the major share of KDOT spending on roads — spending in fiscal 2018 totaled $528.234 million. That’s down 28 percent from $736.781 million the year before, and up from a low of $698.770 million in fiscal 2010.

Again, these are dollars actually spent on highway programs. A common characterization of the way Kansas government is funded is called “robbing the bank of KDOT.” To the extent that characterization is accurate, there is a separate line item titled “Distributions to other state funds” that holds these values. It appears in the nearby table. A chart shows sales tax distributions from the general fund to KDOT, and transfers from KDOT. The two values tack closely over history, and in 2018 were nearly identical values.

Many also criticize Kansas government for slashing highway spending, letting our roads crumble. While total spending on these four programs has been falling (after adjusting for inflation), the decline, until recent years, is minor compared to the hysterical claims of those with vested interests in more government, and especially highway, spending.

Kansas law specifies how much sales tax revenue is transferred to the highway fund. Here are recent rates of transfer and dates they became effective: 1

July 1, 2010: 11.427%
July 1, 2011: 11.26%
July 1, 2012: 11.233%
July 1, 2013: 17.073%
July 1, 2015: 16.226%
July 1, 2016 and thereafter: 16.154%

A nearby chart shows the dollar amounts transferred to the highway fund from sales tax revenue. In 2006 the transfer was $98.914 million, and by 2018 it had grown to $530.765 million.

KDOT spending, major road programs. Click for larger.


Notes

  1. Kansas Statutes Annotated 79-3620.

From Pachyderm: Kansas House candidates

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Republican Party Kansas House of Representatives candidates. This was recorded on September 28, 2018.

Appearing were:

  • David Robbins, District 83 (map of district)
  • Renee Erickson, District 87 (map)
  • Paul Waggoner, District 104 (map)

From Pachyderm: Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner. This was recorded on September 14, 2018.

Shownotes

Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner.

Kansas tax receipts

Kansas tax receipts by category, presented in an interactive visualization.

The Kansas Division of the Budget publishes monthly statistics regarding tax collections. I’ve gathered these and present them in an interactive visualization.

In the nearby example from the visualization, we can see the rising trend in individual income taxes, due to the tax increase passed by the Kansas Legislature.

Click here to learn more and access the visualization.

Example from the visualization. Click for larger.

State government employees in Kansas

Kansas has more state government employees per resident than most states, and the trend is rising.

Each year the United States Census Bureau surveys federal, state, and local government civilian employees. 1 The amount of payroll for a single month (March) is also recorded. In this case, I’ve made the data for state government employees available in an interactive visualization.

For 2016, Kansas had 17.90 full-time equivalent state government employees per thousand residents. This ranked 15th among the states. These employees resulted in payroll cost of $979 per resident, which is 21st among the states.

Nearby is an example from the visualization showing state government employment count (full-time equivalent) per thousand residents for Kansas and some nearby states. It shows total employment, and in addition, education employment and hospital employment. (Since nearly all employees in Kansas elementary and secondary schools are employees of local government, not the state, the employees shown are working in higher education. See below for visualizations of local government employees.)

Two things are evident: The level of employment in Kansas is generally higher than the other states, and the trend in Kansas is rising when many states are level or declining. This data counters the story often told, which is that state government employment has been slashed.

If we look at data for state and local government employees, the conclusions are nearly the same.

Click here to learn more and access the visualization.

There are separate visualizations for local government employees only, and also for state and local government employees together. Click on state and local government employment of local government employment by state and function.

Example from the visualization, showing Kansas and other states. Click for larger.


Notes

  1. United States Census Bureau. Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll (ASPEP). Available at https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/apes.html.

From Pachyderm: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates. These are Republican candidates appearing on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot. This was recorded on August 24, 2018.

Candidates were, in order of initial appearance:

  • Blake Carpenter, 81st District
  • Emil Bergquist, 91st District
  • Leo Delperdang, 94th District
  • Ron Howard, 98th District

Clockwise from top left: Blake Carpenter, Leo Delperdang, Ron Howard, Emil Bergquist

From Pachyderm: Candidates for Kansas House of Representatives

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Candidates for Kansas House of Representatives districts 74, 75, and 80. This was recorded on August 3, 2018.

Candidates invited included:

  • Kansas House District 74: Stephen Owens and incumbent Don Schroeder (Did not attend)
  • Kansas House District 75: Will Carpenter and incumbent Mary Martha Good (Did not attend)
  • Kansas House District 80: Incumbent Anita Judd-Jenkins (Did not attend) and Bill Rhiley

Here are maps of the districts:

Kansas candidate briefings

Recently Kansas Policy Institute, along with Americans for Prosperity and Kansas Chamber of Commerce, held a series of briefings for candidates for the Kansas Legislature. The presentations in Wichita were recorded, and are available as follows:

What Was Really the Matter with the Kansas Tax Plan. KPI President Dave Trabert spoke on the reality and myths of the state’s tax plan. Click here to view at YouTube.

Kansas K-12 Education Spending and Achievement. KPI President Dave Trabert spoke on K-12 education spending and achievement. Click here to view.

Medicaid Expansion. Melissa Fausz, a senior policy analyst with Americans for Prosperity, spoke about Medicaid expansion. Click here to view.

Kansas Chamber Legislative Update. Eric Stafford, vice president of government affairs for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, spoke on the legislative process in Kansas. Click here to view.

Property Taxes. KPI President Dave Trabert spoke on property taxes in Kansas. Click here to view.

Or, view them all. Click here.

Kansas tax collections

If Kansas government doesn’t have enough money to meet spending requests, it’s not for the lack of collecting taxes.

Here is a chart of state tax collections per resident, for Kansas and selected states.

Do you hear complaints of how Kansas is bankrupt and there is no money to spend on schools, roads, and other needs? If these complaints are valid (they aren’t), the problem is not caused by collecting insufficient tax revenue.

To learn more about the data in this visualization and to use it to make your own charts, click here.

State government tax collections per resident, Kansas and other states. Click for larger.

From Pachyderm: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates for districts 97 and 100. This was recorded June 29, 2018.

Candidates invited this week included:

Kansas House District 97
Nick J. Hoheisel and Michael E. Walker. Hoheisel did not attend.
District 97 is currently represented by Les Osterman, who is not running. It is far southwest Wichita plus surrounding areas. A map is here:
www.kslegislature.org/li/m/pdf/district_maps/district_map_h_097.pdf

Kansas House District 100
James Francis Breitenbach and Dan Hawkins
District 100 is currently represented by Dan Hawkins. It covers west Wichita and part of Maize. A map is here:
www.kslegislature.org/li/m/pdf/district_maps/district_map_h_100.pdf

Shownotes

Campaign websites for:

  • Nick J. Hoheisel: None found
  • Michael E. Walker: None found
  • James Francis Breitenbach: None found
  • Dan Hawkins: www.danhawkinskansas.com

From Pachyderm: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates for districts 87 and 93. This was recorded June 22, 2018.

Candidates invited this week included:

Kansas House District 87
Renee Erickson and Jeff Kennedy
District 87 is currently represented by Roger Elliott, who is not running. It is far east Wichita plus portions of Minneha township. A map is here:
www.kslegislature.org/li/m/pdf/district_maps/district_map_h_087.pdf

Kansas House District 93
J.C. Moore and John Whitmer. Moore did not attend.
District 93 is currently represented by John Whitmer. It covers a small part of southwest Wichita and areas west and south. Cities: Cheney, Clearwater, Goddard (part), Haysville (part), Mulvane (part), Viola and Wichita (part). Townships: Afton, Attica (part), Erie, Illinois (part), Morton, Ninnescah, Ohio, Salem, Viola and Waco(part). A map is here:
www.kslegislature.org/li/m/pdf/district_maps/district_map_h_093.pdf

Shownotes

Campaign websites for:

Wichita State University controversy continues

A full-page advertisement critical of the leadership of Wichita State University, from “Advocates for Integrity, Transparency and Accountability,” appearing in the Wichita Eagle, Sunday June 3, 2018. For the advertisement as it appeared in the newspaper, click here.

This is part of a continuing series of advertisements debating the course of Wichita State University. For previous ads, see:

PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT

WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY, IT’S TIME TO LIFT THE SHADE

A growing number of alumni, faculty, staff and citizens are concerned about decisions being made at Wichita State University. As higher education becomes more complex, transparency, shared governance and civility are just that much more important. The following are some of the concerns that have been gathered from a much longer list:

  • When the WSU Administration sold the idea of the YMCA Wellness Center on the Innovation Campus to the Student Government Association, did they explain how many years the student annual commitment of $5 million would apply? Students are going to be paying the full operational costs of the building and likely will have contributed $20 million before the facility is even completed. A 20-year commitment, as an example, would cost students $100 million, 40-years, $200 million. Should student fees be expected to fund Innovation Campus projects of this magnitude? Is there an agreement in place? Where is it? If it exists, who signed it? Can it be adjusted?

  • When Fairmount Towers, an old but serviceable low-cost residence hall was closed to protect investors in The Flats (a private luxury apartment building on the Innovation Campus that on its own had produced fewer than 50 contracts) four annual bond payments of $875,000 each were left outstanding, totaling $3,500,000. This debt service will have to be covered. What is the source of the payments, now that the student housing fees that previously serviced the debt have been redirected to The Flats? If the debt has been covered, from which pocket did that come from?

  • The University president has said he is no longer worried about headcount enrollment because “it doesn’t mean much anymore”. Even so, during his tenure, the University has invested a minimum of three million dollars in a multi-year agreement with the Royall and Company enrollment program (headquartered in Richmond, Virginia) for that very purpose, producing little if any discernible results. What is the payment source for this investment?

  • President Bardo lately has seemed dismissive of the role of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He asked whether anyone would wish the University would be an “elite” liberal arts college, apparently failing to recognize that Liberal Arts and Sciences has provided the foundation for every educated student who has attended since 1895. When did excellence in this college cease to be less important than excellence on the Innovation Campus or elsewhere on the campus? Faculty and staff in Liberal Arts and Sciences feel they have borne the the brunt of budget cuts when state funding has declined, and there has been no noticeable administrative effort to restore academic positions. Is this perception accurate? If so, how can it be justified? The Innovation Campus offers only a small fragment of the education occurring at Wichita State.

  • Prior administrations utilized the majority of the City of Wichita/Sedgwick County mill levy tax appropriation allocated to WSU for student scholarships. In 2013, 57% of that allocation went toward student support and 32.6% to capital improvements ($800,000 to NIAR and $1.6 million to debt service). The budget for 2018 indicates the elimination of debt service obligations, resulting in $1.6 million in available funds that could have been restored to its original purpose of funding scholarships. Instead, allocations for WSU Innovation Campus increased from $513,036 in 2017 to $2,317,061 for 2018, an increase of 351%. The dollar amount for student support remained the same. Why did this administration choose not to return the mill levy funding back to its original purpose by increasing scholarship funding for students in Sedgwick County?

  • In 2016, an “Ideas Lab” to be housed in Henrion Hall was announced by the College of Fine Arts and enthusiastically supported by the central administration and WSU Foundation. It was intended to be a collaborative approach for teaching creative industries, using innovative methods and materials. Faculty were very excited about the possibilities, noting there was nothing like it in this region of the country. Representatives from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation objected because in their view it was too similar to “GoCreate”, a Koch gift located elsewhere on the campus. As a result, even after the earlier public endorsement of the University, the project was canceled. How is putting such control in the hands of Koch good for WSU?

  • The use of corporate entities, Wichita State University Innovation Alliance and Wichita State Innovation Alliance Investment, Inc., to manage the Innovation Campus obscures the risks undertaken by WSU by investing in commercial entities and letting sub-leases that can create obligations in the form of debt, liability or lost opportunities for decades. The resources committed to these activities belong to WSU. Leases and sub-leases related to these resources should be subject to open records laws. Why are these documents being kept from public scrutiny? Who benefits from this arrangement? Have we built alliances with persons and entities who do not share our founding principles?

  • Why have conflict of interest issues among executives and representatives of corporations with whom WSU has entered into contracts gone undisclosed until discovered and reported from outside sources? (e.g. According to the Management Review for Wichita State University report to the Kansas Board of Regents, “As Dr. John Tomblin has many roles with the University, WSIA, WSIAIC, The National Institute of Aviation Research (“NIAR”), and personally owned entities, there is an increased risk for conflicts of interest with respect to time, compensation and fiduciary duty. For example, Dr. Tomblin and his wife own 29.33% of Aero Point Technologies, LLC (“Aero Point”). The University owns the rights and intends to exclusively license Aero Point’s technology.” Prior to this finding by BKD, the Conflict of Interest Policy then in place only required Dr. Tomblin to disclose the conflict if his ownership exceeded 35%. What was the rationale for choosing 35% as the threshold for disclosing a conflict of interest? Has a new, more robust and responsible conflict of interest policy been issued?

  • There is a climate of fear and retribution on campus. The administration has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle personnel issues when staff and faculty members were forced to leave. Settlement was made subject to the signing of a non-disclosure agreement. What gave rise to this demoralizing environment and what is being done to correct it?

This ad was not written by enemies of Wichita State University, but by people who care.

This ad was paid for by

Advocates for Integrity, Transparency and Accountability.

Anne Woods – Treasurer | P.O. Box 8714 | Wichita, KS 67208 | 316-688-1889

PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT

State and local government employee and payroll

Considering all government employees in proportion to population, Kansas has many compared to other states, and especially so in education.

Each year the United States Census Bureau surveys federal, state, and local government civilian employees. I’ve gathered this data and present it in an interactive visualization using several views and supplementary calculations. 1

The Census Bureau collects both counts of employees and payroll dollars. Comparisons based on the number of employees are useful, bypassing issues such as differing costs of living and salaries in general.

Considering all government employees, Kansas has 68.35 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees per thousand residents. Only two states and the District of Columbia have more.

For total elementary and secondary education employment, Kansas has 30.64 such employees (full-time equivalent) per thousand residents. Only two states have more.

Click here to learn more about the visualization and to use it yourself.

In this example from the visualization showing Kansas and nearby states, Kansas stands out. Click for larger.


Notes

  1. For details and to access the visualization, see here: https://wichitaliberty.org/visualization-state-and-local-government-employment/.

Wichita State University thinking innovatively, says ad

A full-page advertisement defending the leadership of Wichita State University, from “Friends of the University,” appearing in the Wichita Eagle, Sunday April 22, 2018. For the advertisement as it appeared in the newspaper, click here. For the advertisement from the week before, which criticized the university leadership, click on Wichita State University degraded, says ad.

INNOVATIVE THINKING FOR TODAY’S REALITIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION

The playing field of higher education is rapidly changing. The models of the 1970s, or even 1990s, are no longer applicable. With state public funding now paying only about 35% of total educational costs, roughly half of the amount covered less than 20 years ago, universities must seek new avenues of revenue and partnerships, enabling delivery of high quality education across their campuses.

Wichita State University, under President John Bardo, is on the leading edge of this forward-thinking concept. The WSU innovation campus, creation of WSU Tech, and a number of other initiatives recently launched will provide the pathway to ongoing success, not merely for the University but all of Wichita and South Central Kansas, for decades to come.

For the record, we support Doctor Bardo and his colleagues who are bringing highly favorable national recognition to our community, while assuring Wichita State’s ability to continue to prepare students with knowledge and skills for successful careers in all academic areas.

Loyal Shockers in Support of our University and its Leadership
Al Higdon, treasurer, 1513 Foliage Court, Wichita, Ks. 316-650-8665

We the undersigned endorse and have paid for this message, in the best interest of Wichita State University, its students, faculty and staff, as well as for the prosperity of our greater community.

There followed a list of signatories. Also:
Paid political advertisement

Wichita State University degraded, says ad

A full-page advertisement critical of the leadership of Wichita State University, from “Friends of the University,” appearing in the Wichita Eagle, Sunday April 15, 2018. For the advertisement as it appeared in the newspaper, click here.

WHOSE UNIVERSITY IS IT ANYWAY?

As Kansans and taxpayers, we protest the degradation of our public democratic institution, Wichita State University. The current university leaders have eroded the bedrock policies and values upon which the university was founded.

Some examples:

  • With their intimidations and threats to underfund The Sunflower, the student newspaper, they have assaulted freedom of the press
  • With the creation of the WSU Innovation Alliance, they have sublet public university land to private developers, thereby evading the requirements of the Kansas Open Records and Open Meetings Acts
  • With their refusal to fund faculty positions in certain disciplines, they have undermined the liberal arts and sciences, an insult to the university’s original purpose
  • With their use of student fees to support the Innovation Campus, they have saddled present and future students with millions in future debt obligations
  • With their decisions to build a multi-million-dollar housing complex, and to divert 5 percent of scholarship money to non-academic purposes, they have evaded accountability to the university’s owners, the people of Kansas
  • With their use of non-credit and non-academic courses to inflate student enrollment numbers, they have undermined public confidence in their integrity — and their stewardship
  • With their allocation of a public building to a private school, they have flouted the principle that public resources be used to the public’s benefit

As Kansans, we beseech the Kansas Board of Regents to redress these abuses of the public trust, and to protect students, faculty members and community residents from further such abuses.

There followed a list of signatories, plus an indication there are some who wanted anonymity. Also:

This ad was paid for by Friends of the University.
Anne Woods — Treasurer | P.O. Box 8714 | Wichita, KS 67208 | 316-688-1889
Paid political advertisement

Kansas highways set to crumble, foresees former budget director

Duane Goossen, former high Kansas government official, says the state’s highways are in trouble. What is his evidence?

In a recent op-ed, Duane Goossen laments the lack of spending on Kansas roads and highways. 1 His focus is his claimed lack spending on maintenance, which, he says, will lead to much larger repair bills in the future.

“But now the Kansas road system is truly threatened.” He raises the common “Bank of KDOT” criticism, writing “The highway fund became a convenient source of cash.”

KDOT transfers from sales tax . Click for larger.
It’s true, as Goossen writes, that a lot of money has been transferred from the highway fund to the general fund. At the same time, the amount of sales tax dollars transferred from the general fund to the transportation fund has risen, and by a factor of five over one decade.

But it isn’t true that Kansas highways are crumbling from lack of spending on maintenance.

Kansas Highway Conditions, through 2017. Click for larger.
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. For non-interstate highways, the percent in good condition fell starting in 2004, but has rebounded.

Based on these charts, there’s no factual basis to claim that Kansas roads and highways are deteriorating.

KDOT spending, major road programs. Click for larger.
KDOT spending, total road programs. Click for larger.
KDOT transfers. Click for larger.
KDOT funding sources, partial. Click for larger.
But Goossen looks to the future, claiming that a lack of spending now will lead to big bills later. Now, it’s important to know that while money has been transferred from the highway fund, that alone doesn’t tell us about the level of spending on maintenance. Looking at actual spending instead of transfers to and from, we find that for fiscal year 2017, spending on three categories (Maintenance, Preservation, and Modernization) was nearly unchanged from the year before, while spending on the category Expansion and Enhancement fell by 31 percent.

For these four categories — which represent the major share of KDOT spending on roads — spending in fiscal 2017 totaled $738.798 million. That’s down 14 percent from $857.133 million the year before, and up from a low of $698.770 million in fiscal 2010. 3

And adjusted for inflation, spending on maintenance programs has declined somewhat, including in the years when Goossen held high office. These declines, however, are far short of setting up Goossen’s prediction of calamity.

Then, there’s this, which is really incredible. Goossen criticizes some of the bonds issued by KDOT in recent years, and he is on the mark: “And a portion of that debt has ‘interest only’ payments in the first years, with the principal payments still to come.”

However: The state also issued “interest only” bonds in 2004 and 2010. 4 Who was budget director during these years, as well as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Administration? Duane Goossen. 5 But now Goossen criticizes as irresponsible the same action the state took when he was in high office.

Given the insufficient factual basis for Goossen’s claims — not to mention the blatant hypocrisy — we have to wonder if this article is politically motivated. Perhaps it is, as we see Goossen making the maximum allowed contribution to Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly.

Either that, or Goossen is auditioning for another government job.


Notes

  1. Goossen, Duane. Trouble coming for Kansas highways. Garden City Telegram, March 30, 2018. Available at http://www.gctelegram.com/opinion/20180330/trouble-coming-for-kansas-highways.
  2. Kansas Department of Transportation. 2017 Kansas NOS Condition Survey Report. Available at https://www.ksdot.org/Assets/wwwksdotorg/bureaus/matResLab/pmis/2017/CSR2017_SW.pdf.
  3. Weeks, Bob. Kansas highway spending. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/kansas-government/kansas-highway-spending-2017/.
  4. Weeks, Bob. Kansas transportation bonds economics worse than told. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/kansas-government/kansas-transportation-bonds-economics-worse-than-told/.
  5. Goossen, Duane. Kansas Budget blog. Available at http://www.kansasbudget.com/.

Kansas personal income

Personal income in Kansas rose in 2017 at a rate one-third that of the nation.

Personal income in Kansas for 2017 was $138,673 million, according to preliminary estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce.

Change in personal income, 2016 to 2017. Click for a larger version and the BEA press release.
That is an increase of 1.0 percent from 2016, when personal income was $137,305 million. These are current dollars, not adjusted for inflation. 1

The growth for Kansas — 1.0 percent — ranked 47th among the states. For the nation, personal income rose by 3.1 percent, and for the Plains states, it rose by 1.7 percent.

BEA gives the population of Kansas as 2,913,000, with per capita personal income at $47,603. That ranks 24th among the states, and is 94 percent of the value of personal income for the entire nation, which is $50,392.

Personal income, according to BEA, is “the income received by, or on behalf of, all persons from all sources: from participation as laborers in production, from owning a home or business, from the ownership of financial assets, and from government and business in the form of transfers. It includes income from domestic sources as well as the rest of world. It does not include realized or unrealized capital gains or losses.” 2

For Kansas, there were these notable changes in earnings:
Farm: Down by 0.66 percent
Non-durable goods manufacturing: Up by 0.23 percent
Wholesale trade: Up by 0.11 percent
Transportation and warehousing: Up by 0.15 percent
Management of companies and enterprise: Up by 0.15 percent
Health care and social assistance: Up by 0.23 percent
State and local government: Up by 0.21 percent


Notes

  1. Bureau of Economic Analysis. State Personal Income: 2017. Available at https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/spi/sqpi_newsrelease.htm.
  2. Ibid.