From the Wichita Pachyderm Club, a legislative wrap up featuring Representative Brenda Landwehr and Senator Ty Masterson. This was recorded May 31, 2019.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Martin Hawver, dean of the Kansas Statehouse press corps. This was recorded January 4, 2019.
Martin Hawver is the editor and publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report, the respected, non-partisan news service that reports on Kansas government and politics.
He also is the dean of the Kansas Statehouse press corps, having covered the beat (36 years) longer than any current Statehouse reporter — first for 17 years as a Statehouse reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal and since 1993 for Hawver’s Capitol Report. He is the primary reporter/writer for the news service. He also writes a column syndicated to Kansas newspapers, is interviewed about Kansas government and politics on TV and radio shows, and is a speaker for seminars and conventions.
Hawver has covered 36 Kansas legislative sessions and 14 national Republican and Democratic political conventions, plus countless statewide and local political conventions.
Hawver writes a weekly column called “At The Rail” that is syndicated to Kansas newspapers. He also turns out to be an entertaining, informative, and pretty well-known public speaker, and if your Kansas-based group is interested in political humor, government humor, or even just understanding the landscape in the ever-more-confusing world of politics, you might want to consider having Martin Hawver speak. (Source: Hawver’s Capitol Report)
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.
This visualization is experimental. I would appreciate feedback on views of this data that would be useful.
Click here to access the visualization.
From the office of Kansas House of Representatives Speaker Ron Ryckman, here are committee assignments for the 2019 session of the Kansas Legislature. The session starts Monday January 14, 2019.
9:00 AM Committees
Appropriations (112-N): Troy Waymaster, Chair; Kyle Hoffman, Vice Chair; Kathy Wolfe Moore, Ranking Minority; John Alcala; Barbara Ballard; Tom Burroughs; Sydney Carlin; Will Carpenter; J.R. Claeys; Susan Concannon; Willie Dove; Shannon Francis; Henry Helgerson; Steven Johnson; Brenda Landwehr; Stephen Owens; Brett Parker; Richard Proehl; Ken Rahjes; Brad Ralph; Bill Sutton; Sean Tarwater; and Kristey Williams.
Federal and State Affairs (346-S): John Barker, Chair; Francis Awerkamp, Vice Chair; Louis Ruiz, Ranking Minority; Tory Arnberger; Jesse Burris; Blake Carpenter; Stephanie Clayton; John Eplee; Renee Erickson; Broderick Henderson; Boog Highberger; Michael Houser; Susan Humphries; Trevor Jacobs; Jim Karleskint; Jan Kessinger; Les Mason; Nancy Lusk; John Resman; Eric Smith; Jerry Stogsdill; Adam Thomas; and Brandon Woodard.
Rural Revitalization (582-N): Don Hineman, Chair; Adam Smith, Vice Chair; Jason Probst, Ranking Minority; Dave Baker; Ken Collins; Owen Donohoe; Cheryl Helmer; Larry Hibbard; Ron Highland; Cindy Holscher; Tim Hodge; Eileen Horn; Russ Jennings; Monica Murnan; Bill Pannbacker; Jene Vickrey; and Paul Waggoner.
Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications (T/Th) (281-N): Joe Seiwert, Chair; Mark Schreiber, Vice Chair; Annie Kuether, Ranking Minority; Emil Bergquist; John Carmichael; Ken Corbet; Tom Cox; Leo Delperdang; Stan Frownfelter; Randy Garber; Jim Gartner; Nick Hoheisel; Marty Long; Cindy Neighbor; Mark Samsel; Jack Thimesch; and Kellie Warren.
Financial Institutions and Pensions (M/W) (281-N): Jim Kelly, Chair; Boyd Orr, Vice Chair; Gail Finney, Ranking Minority; David Benson; Doug Blex; Suzi Carlson; Tom Cox; Leo Delperdang; Brenda Dietrich; Stan Frownfelter; Megan Lynn; Leonard Mastroni; Bill Rhiley; John Toplikar; Barb Wasinger; Virgil Weigel; and Rui Xu.
Local Government (M/W) (218-N): Kent Thompson, Chair; Emil Bergquist, Vice Chair; Pam Curtis, Ranking Minority; Mike Amyx; Elizabeth Bishop; Michael Capps; Lonnie Clark; Charlotte Esau; Ron Howard; Greg Lewis; Marty Long; J.C. Moore; and Jarrod Ousley.
Veterans (T/Th) (218-N): Lonnie Clark, Chair; Ron Ellis, Vice Chair; Virgil Weigel, Ranking Minority; Chris Croft; Diana Dierks; Brenda Dietrich; David French; Ron Howard; Tom Phillips; Jeff Pittman; Susan Ruiz; Ponka-We Victors; and John Wheeler.
1:30 PM Committees
Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget (142-S): Willie Dove, Chair; Larry Hibbard, Vice Chair; Sydney Carlin, Ranking Minority; Lonnie Clark; Jim Gartner; Trevor Jacobs; Greg Lewis; Boyd Orr; and 58th House District Representative.
Children and Seniors (346-S): Susan Concannon, Chair; Susan Humphries, Vice Chair; Jarrod Ousley, Ranking Minority; Suzi Carlson; Diana Dierks; Charlotte Esau; Randy Garber; Leonard Mastroni; Nancy Lusk; Cindy Neighbor; Bill Rhiley; Susan Ruiz; and Paul Waggoner.
Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development (112-N): Sean Tarwater, Chair; Ken Corbet, Vice Chair; Stan Frownfelter, Ranking Minority; Tom Burroughs; Will Carpenter; Chris Croft; Pam Curtis; Ron Highland; Don Hineman; Kyle Hoffman; Jan Kessinger; Marty Long; Les Mason; Jason Probst; Brad Ralph; Louis Ruiz; and Kristey Williams.
Corrections/Juvenile Justice (152-S): Russ Jennings, Chair; Leo Delperdang, Vice Chair; Boog Highberger, Ranking Minority; John Carmichael; David French; Annie Kuether; Stephen Owens; Fred Patton; Bill Pannbacker; John Resman; Eric Smith; Virgil Weigel; and John Wheeler.
Education (218-N): Steve Huebert, Chair; Brenda Dietrich, Vice Chair; Jim Ward, Ranking Minority; David Benson; Stephanie Clayton; Renee Erickson; Cheryl Helmer; Steven Johnson; Jim Karleskint; Mark Samsel; Mark Schreiber; Adam Smith; Jerry Stogsdill; Adam Thomas; John Toplikar; Jene Vickrey; and Rui Xu
Health and Human Services (546-S): Brenda Landwehr, Chair; John Eplee, Vice Chair; Monica Murnan, Ranking Minority; Tory Arnberger; John Barker; Emil Bergquist; Elizabeth Bishop; Doug Blex; Ken Collins; Ron Ellis; Broderick Henderson; Cindy Holscher; Eileen Horn; Ron Howard; Jim Kelly; Megan Lynn; and Kellie Warren.
Higher Education Budget (281-N): Ken Rahjes, Chair; Tom Phillips, Vice Chair; Brandon Whipple, Ranking Minority; Jesse Burris; Blake Carpenter; J.C. Moore; Brett Parker; Barb Wasinger; and Brandon Woodard.
Transportation (582-N): Richard Proehl, Chair; Jack Thimesch, Vice Chair; Henry Helgerson, Ranking Minority; Francis Awerkamp; Dave Baker; Barbara Ballard; J.R. Claeys; Tom Cox; Shannon Francis; Nick Hoheisel; Michael Houser; KC Ohaebosim; Jeff Pittman; Joe Seiwert; Bill Sutton; Kent Thompson; and Ponka-We Victors.
3:30 PM Committees
Agriculture (582-N): Ron Highland, Chair; Eric Smith, Vice Chair; Sydney Carlin, Ranking Minority; Doug Blex; Larry Hibbard; Eileen Horn; Trevor Jacobs; Jim Karleskint; Greg Lewis; Boyd Orr; Bill Pannbacker; Jason Probst; Mark Schreiber; Joe Seiwert; Kent Thompson; Virgil Weigel; and Rui Xu.
General Government Budget (281-N): J.R. Claeys, Chair; Tory Arnberger, Vice Chair; Tom Burroughs, Ranking Minority; Mike Amyx; Leo Delperdang; David French; Cheryl Helmer; Broderick Henderson; and Marty Long.
Judiciary (346-S): Fred Patton, Chair; Brad Ralph, Vice Chair; John Carmichael, Ranking Minority; Emil Bergquist; Jesse Burris; Pam Curtis; Randy Garber; Boog Highberger; Nick Hoheisel;
Susan Humphries; Russ Jennings; Annie Kuether; KC Ohaebosim; Stephen Owens; Mark Samsel; Kellie Warren; and John Wheeler.
K-12 Education Budget (546-S): Kristey Williams, Chair; Kyle Hoffman, Vice Chair; Valdenia Winn, Ranking Minority; Brenda Dietrich; Renee Erickson; Cindy Holscher; Steve Huebert; Brenda Landwehr; Nancy Lusk; Adam Smith; Sean Tarwater; Adam Thomas; and Jim Ward.
Social Services Budget (144-S): Will Carpenter, Chair; Leonard Mastroni, Vice Chair; Barbara Ballard, Ranking Minority; Suzi Carlson; Owen Donohoe; Ron Howard; Megan Lynn; Monica Murnan; and Susan Ruiz.
Taxation (112-N): Steven Johnson, Chair; Les Mason, Vice Chair; Jim Gartner, Ranking Minority; John Alcala; Dave Baker; John Barker; Stephanie Clayton; Susan Concannon; Ken Corbet; Chris Croft; John Eplee; Henry Helgerson; Don Hineman; Jim Kelly; Tom Phillips; Richard Proehl; Ken Rahjes; Jerry Stogsdill; Jack Thimesch; John Toplikar; Barb Wasinger; Kathy Wolfe Moore; and 58th House District Representative.
Transportation and Public Safety Budget (142-S): Shannon Francis, Chair; John Resman, Vice Chair; Jeff Pittman, Ranking Minority; David Benson; Ron Ellis; Charlotte Esau; Michael Houser; Jan Kessinger; and Ponka-We Victors.
Elections (T/Th) (212B-N): Bill Sutton, Chair; Blake Carpenter, Vice Chair; Brett Parker, Ranking Minority; Frances Awerkamp; Lonnie Clark; Ken Collins; Willie Dove; Tim Hodge; J.C. Moore, Jarrod Ousley; Bill Rhiley; Paul Waggoner; and Brandon Whipple.
Insurance (M/W) (212B-N): Jene Vickrey, Chair; Tom Cox, Vice Chair; Cindy Neighbor, Ranking Minority; Francis Awerkamp; Elizabeth Bishop; Michael Capps; Blake Carpenter; Ken Collins; Diana Dierks; Willie Dove; Gail Finney; Stan Frownfelter; J.C. Moore; Bill Rhiley; Bill Sutton; Paul Waggoner; and Brandon Woodard.
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. Updated with data through October 2018.
Click here to learn more and access the visualization.
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 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 Michael.Austin@kansaspolicy.org.
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.
What is the condition of Kansas highways?
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
- Kansas Department of Transportation. Pavement Management Information System (PMIS). Available at https://www.ksdot.org/bureaus/matreslab/pmis/reports.asp. ↩
- 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. ↩
- Weeks, Bob. Kansas highway spending. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/kansas-government/kansas-highway-spending-2018/. ↩
A look at actual spending on Kansas highways, apart from transfers.
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.
- Kansas Statutes Annotated 79-3620. ↩
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.
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.
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
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Candidates for Kansas House of Representatives districts 74, 75, and 80. This was recorded on August 3, 2018.
- 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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
Campaign websites for:
- Nick J. Hoheisel: None found
- Michael E. Walker: None found
- James Francis Breitenbach: None found
- Dan Hawkins: www.danhawkinskansas.com