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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday January 6, 2011

State GOP chief to speak in Wichita. This Friday (January 7th) Amanda Adkins, who is Chair of the Kansas Republican Party, will speak at the Wichita Pachyderm Club. The topic is “Conservative Leadership Now — 2020: Building Long-term Political Infrastructure for the State of Kansas.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. Upcoming speakers include Bob Lamke, Director of the Sedgwick County Division of Public Safety on January 14th, and Ed Flentje, Professor at the Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs at Wichita State University, will be discussing a book he co-authored titled “Kansas Politics and Government” on January 21.

Kansas budget under more stress. The gap in the Kansas budget for fiscal year 2012 is now estimated at $550 million. In context, the general fund budget is around $6 billion, so the gap is about none percent of the budget. Fiscal year 2012 starts on July 1, 2011, and is the budget year the legislature will be working on when the session starts next week — although usually the real work on the budget is delayed until near the end of the session. It’s important to remember that the gap is the difference between projected revenues and desired or forecast spending. There’s nothing that says we have to spend what past plans call for.

Education and Medicaid spending protected. Governor-elect Brownback said this week that education and Medicaid will be protected from budget cuts. Furthermore, there will be no tax increase. But these two budget items are such a huge portion of Kansas spending, it’s difficult to see where the governor will find room to create a balanced budget.

Kansas school spending, constitutional issues discussed. Last Friday (New Years Eve) the Kansas 9.12 and Kansans for Liberty groups held an educational event and I made a presentation on Kansas school spending and ideas for reform. Video of my presentation is available at Vimeo. Other speakers included Larry Halloran on The Year Ahead, David Losey on states’ nullification rights, and Richard Fry on Article 3 Original Jurisdiction.

Low interest rates and saving. Thomas A. Page, President of Emprise Bank in Wichita, recently wrote a letter to the Wichita Eagle in which he explained how government intervention in the economy has negative — and surely unintended — consequences: “Much has been written about the efforts of various federal agencies, specifically the Federal Reserve, to maintain interest rates at unprecedented low levels. The most frequent argument for these rates is that they will cause consumers and businesses to borrow more money, which will stimulate the economy by increasing demand. It’s not working — for many reasons. What has been ignored is the impact on the economy of lowered incomes for America’s savers, particularly retirees. Their incomes have been devastated and, consequently, so has their purchasing power.”

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