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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday November 7, 2010

Wichita City Council this week. Spirit AeroSystems asks for $7.5 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRB). IRBs are not loans made by the city. In fact, in this case the bonds will be purchased by Spirit itself, says the agenda report: “Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. intends to purchase the bonds itself, through direct placement, and the bonds will not be reoffered for sale to the public.” The reason for the bonds is the property tax exemption on property purchased with the bond proceeds. Additionally, Spirit may not have to pay sales tax on the purchases. This is a public hearing designed to solicit citizen input on this matter. … Then POET Ethanol, Inc. asks for an additional five years of property tax exemption. Five years ago POET — then known as Ethanol Products, LLC — received a “five-plus-five-year” exemption, meaning that exemptions were granted for five years, with a review to take place to see if the company met the goals it agreed to as a condition of receiving the exemption. At this five year review, city staff says POET has met the goals and recommends that the property tax exemptions be granted for another five years. … The Finance Department will also present a quarterly financial report. The agenda and accompanying material is at Wichita City Council Meeting, November 9, 2010.

The election means something. “Elections have consequences,” writes Burdett Loomis, professor of Political Science at the University of Kansas in an Insight Kansas editorial available at State of the State KS. He writes: “The broad and deep GOP set of victories means that conservatives have the opportunity to put forward an agenda of social, fiscal, and tax issues that have been built up over the past two decades. Unquestionably, many of those items will quickly find their way into law.” But Loomis thinks things are pretty good already in Kansas: “In general, things may need some tinkering, but there’s very little that’s broken in Kansas. Governor Brownback should understand his power, and the need to act responsibly as he works on behalf of all Kansans to better their health, education, and quality of life.”

Wichita Eagle publisher at Pachyderm. This week’s meeting (November 12) meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features as the presenter William “Skip” Hidlay, President and Publisher of The Wichita Eagle. His topic will be “The Eagle’s transformation in the digital age.” Hidlay is new to Wichita, having started at the Eagle in March after working at newspapers in New Jersey. The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Property rights experiment to be conducted. This Monday Americans for Prosperity, Wichita Chapter, presents “I, City: An Exercise.” Presenters will be John Todd and Susan Estes. Todd says: “You are invited to participate in an experimental exercise involving private property rights, and experience the impact of taxes, regulations, and economic incentive programs mandated by government on those property rights.” Todd says that suggested reading prior to the meeting is “I, Pencil” an essay by Leonard E. Read of the Foundation For Economic Education. You may click here to read this short essay. This event is on Monday November 8, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, at the Lionel D. Alford Library located at 3447 S. Meridian in Wichita. The library is just north of the I-235 exit on Meridian. For more information on this event contact John Todd at john@johntodd.net or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at sestes@afphq.org or 316-681-4415.

Kansas taxes in perspective. Governor elect Sam Brownback wants to take a look at the tax structure in Kansas. Possible actions could include eliminating the corporate income tax. Context: The one cent per dollar increase in the statewide sales tax is expected to bring in an additional $300 million per year. According to the Kansas Legislature Briefing Book, in fiscal year 2009 the corporate income tax brought in $294.2 million, just about the same as the increase in the sales tax. Personal income taxes brought in $2,755.3 million. Excise taxes — sales and compensating use taxes, alcohol and cigarette taxes, and severance taxes — brought in $2,286.7 million.

Huelskamp to Washington. Mark Reagan of the Dodge City Daily Globe interviews Tim Huelskamp, the new congressman for the first district of Kansas. Some of the matters Huelskamp has to deal with include orientation, hiring a staff in Washington and in the home district, his hope to serve on the agriculture committee, and voting for leadership. He notes that the federal government has been borrowing 37 cents of each dollar it spends. … Tim and his wife Angela have four young children, all adopted, some from Haiti. I would imagine a big decision he has to make is whether to travel home each weekend — as did predecessor Jerry Moran — or move his family to Washington. It’s not a quick and simple matter to travel from Washington to his home in Fowler. It usually takes about six hours to fly from Washington to Wichita, and then another three hours to drive to Fowler. That’s a lot of time spent traveling, and most of it is idle, wasted time. … I’ve observed Huelskamp in several debates on the floor of the Kansas Senate. Whoever is selected to fill his remaining term has some big shoes to fill.

Election was about the economy. Cato Institute executive vice president David Boaz contributes an excellent analysis of the election and a cautionary warning. In GOP Won on Economy, So Focus on It he writes: “The usual pattern is that after the election, voters and the activists go back to their normal lives, but organized interests redouble their efforts to influence policymakers. The people who want something from government hire lobbyists, make political contributions and otherwise do all they can to get their hands on taxpayers’ money. Meanwhile, the average taxpayer cannot be expected to exert influence on each particular spending bill. Tea partiers must change that pattern. They must keep up the pressure on Congress and state legislators. They must demand actual performance, not just promises. To keep momentum going, tea partiers should also insist that Republicans stay focused on the economic agenda that created their winning coalition, and not get bogged down in divisive social issues, which will split the movement and alienate independents.” In Kansas, this may be a problem. While incoming governor Sam Brownback is already exploring ways to cut taxes in Kansas, there are also proposals for various social legislative agendas, such as restrictions on abortion and requiring photo ID for voting. While these measures are important, I believe our state’s fiscal status is very important and must be dealt with.

Organ recital this Tuesday. This Tuesday German organist Ludger Lohmann visits Wichita to present a recital as part of the Rie Bloomfield Organ Series. The event is at 7:30 pm Tuesday, November 9, at Wiedemann Recital Hall (map) on the campus of Wichita State University. Tickets are $10 with discounts available. For more information call the fine arts box office at 316-978-3233. I’ve not heard Mr. Lohmann live, but I own several of his recordings, and this is a recital that music lovers should not miss.

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