Local economic development in Wichita

Writing from Memphis, Tennessee

Today’s Wichita Eagle (November 5, 2005) tells us of a new economic development package that our local governments have given to induce a call center to locate in Wichita. The deal is described as “one of the biggest the two-year-old economic development coalition [Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition] has landed.”

There is an interesting academic paper titled “The Failures of Economic Development Incentives,” published in Journal of the American Planning Association, and which can be read here: www.planning.org/japa/pdf/04winterecondev.pdf. A few quotes from the study:

Given the weak effects of incentives on the location choices of businesses at the interstate level, state governments and their local governments in the aggregate probably lose far more revenue, by cutting taxes to firms that would have located in that state anyway than they gain from the few firms induced to change location.

On the three major questions — Do economic development incentives create new jobs? Are those jobs taken by targeted populations in targeted places? Are incentives, at worst, only moderately revenue negative? — traditional economic development incentives do not fare well. It is possible that incentives do induce significant new growth, that the beneficiaries of that growth are mainly those who have greatest difficulty in the labor market, and that both states and local governments benefit fiscally from that growth. But after decades of policy experimentation and literally hundreds of scholarly studies, none of these claims is clearly substantiated. Indeed, as we have argued in this article, there is a good chance that all of these claims are false.

The most fundamental problem is that many public officials appear to believe that they can influence the course of their state or local economies through incentives and subsidies to a degree far beyond anything supported by even the most optimistic evidence. We need to begin by lowering their expectations about their ability to micromanage economic growth and making the case for a more sensible view of the role of government — providing the foundations for growth through sound fiscal practices, quality public infrastructure, and good education systems — and then letting the economy take care of itself.

On the surface of things, to the average person, it would seem that spending to attract new businesses makes a lot of sense. It’s a win-win deal, backers say. Everyone benefits. This is why it appeals so to politicians. It lets them trumpet their achievements doing something that no one should reasonably disagree with. After all, who could be against jobs and prosperity? But the evidence that these schemes work is lacking, as this article shows.

Close to Wichita we have the town of Lawrence, which has recently realized that it as been, well, bamboozled? A September 29, 2005 Lawrence Journal-World article (“Firms must earn tax incentives”) tell us: “Even with these generous standards for compliance, to have 13 out of 17 partnerships fail [to live up to promised economic activity levels] indicates that the city has received poor guidance in its economic development activities.” Further: “The most disconcerting fact is that Lawrence would probably have gained nearly all of the jobs generated by these firms without giving away wasteful tax breaks.”

On November 6, 2005, an article in the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader said this:

The Herald-Leader’s investigation, based on a review of more than 15,000 pages of documents and interviews with more than 100 people, reveals a pattern of government giveaways that, all too often, ends in lost jobs, abandoned factories and broken promises.

The investigation shows:

Companies that received incentives often did not live up to their promises. In a 10-year period the paper analyzed, at least one in four companies that received assistance from the state’s main cash-grant program did not create the number of jobs projected.

A tax-incentive program specifically for counties with high unemployment has had little effect in many of those areas. One in five manufacturing companies that received the tax break has since closed.

There is spotty oversight of state tax incentives. The state sometimes does not attempt to recover incentives, even when companies don’t create jobs as required.

Unlike some other states, Kentucky makes little information about incentives public. The Cabinet for Economic Development refuses to release much of the information about its dealings with businesses, citing proprietary concerns. The cabinet has never studied its programs’ effectiveness, and it blocked a legislative committee’s effort to do so.

The Herald-Leader’s examination of Kentucky’s business-incentive programs comes when, nationally, questions are mounting about the effectiveness and legality of expensive government job-creation efforts. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide by spring whether trading tax breaks for jobs is legal or whether they amount to discrimination against other companies.

Meanwhile, states continue engaging in costly economic battles for new jobs, even though research strongly suggests that few business subsidies actually influence where a company sets up shop.

We might want to be optimistic and hope that our local Wichita and Sedgwick County leaders are smarter than those in Lawrence and Lexington. Evidence shows us, however, that this probably isn’t the case. Our own local Wichita City Council members have shown that they aren’t familiar with even the most basic facts about our economic development programs. How do we know this? Consider the article titled “Tax break triggers call for reform” published in the Wichita Eagle on August 1, 2004:

Public controversy over the Genesis bond has exposed some glaring flaws in the process used to review industrial revenue bonds and accompanying tax breaks.

For example, on July 13, Mayans and council members Sharon Fearey, Carl Brewer, Bob Martz and Paul Gray voted in favor of granting Genesis $11.8 million in industrial revenue bond financing for its expansion, along with a 50 percent break on property taxes worth $1.7 million.

They all said they didn’t know that, with that vote, they were also approving a sales tax exemption, estimated by Genesis to be worth about $375,000.

It is not like the sales tax exemption that accompanies industrial revenue bonds is a secret. An easily accessible web page on the City of Wichita’s web site explains it.

But perhaps there is hope. The Wichita Business Journal has recently reported this: “The city and county are getting $2 back for every dollar they spent over the past 18 months on economic development incentives, according to an analysis of GWEDC-supplied data. The report was presented at Thursday’s GWEDC investor luncheon at the Hyatt Regency by Janet Harrah, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University.” Personally, I am skeptical. I have asked to see these figures and how they are calculated, but I have not been able to obtain them.

Tax reform and simplification

Writing from Orlando, Florida

Two recent Wall Street Journal articles (“A Golden Opportunity” in the November 1, 2005 issue, and “Triple Jeopardy” in the November 2, 2005 issue) make the case for simplification and reform of our current income tax system. In these articles we learn these things:

“… true reform — changing to a broad-based income or consumption levy that taxes income only once — could yield once-and-for-all annual household income gains of 9%.”

Our tax system has a bias against saving and investment. That slows capital formation and wage growth.

“It is the marginal tax rate — the rate on the additional dollar earned from work, saving or entrepreneurship — that sets incentives and governs the pro-growth gains from tax reform.”

“Eliminating the tax bias altogether in favor of employer-provided insurance is sound tax policy and would increase efficiency in health-care spending.” I have written in the past about how employer-provided health insurance is not good for our economy, or for consumers of insurance.

“A tax system should generate the government’s required revenue with as little economic distortion as possible, while distributing tax burdens fairly. It should not discourage work, saving or entrepreneurship more than is necessary, and it should not discourage individuals from acquiring the skills and education that will increase their productivity. It should not discourage investment, or favor investments in one asset over those in another. In short, an efficient tax system alters economic decision-making as little as possible.

“Although many see simplification as the primary goal of tax reform, promoting economic growth is a more important objective. Even in the relatively short run, the economic costs of a tax system that slows growth are likely to exceed compliance costs. U.S. households spend roughly 1% of GDP in complying with the income tax system. Halving the costs of compliance would be equivalent to raising GDP by one half of one percent — no minor accomplishment. The increase in GDP that might result from a tax reform that reduces tax burdens on investment and shifts the tax system toward a consumption tax are much larger.”

“Tax reform, as distinct from tax reduction, inevitably involves curtailing some entrenched tax benefits. If reform proposals are dissected by politicians in an attempt to promote provisions that reduce their constituents’ tax liabilities while excising those that increase constituents’ tax liabilities, reform will inevitably fail. But if reform proposals are viewed instead as a collection of provisions that leave most families in a position not very different from their current one, while also shifting the tax system toward a structure that will promote long-term economic growth and reduce the burden of tax compliance, then these proposals can command broad popular support and even enthusiasm. Genuine tax reform is a difficult process that requires commitment to the goal of creating a more efficient, simpler and fairer tax system.”

With so much to be gained, why isn’t there a rush to implement tax reform and simplification? The primary reason is that there are many special interest groups with a lot of political power that favor the present system. These interests include those industries and companies powerful enough to manipulate the tax system to their benefit. Politicians, of course, enjoy the present system, as it offers many ways to reward those who help them stay in office and increase their power. It also lets them influence the behavior of nearly everyone through manipulation of the activities that the tax code favors with deductions and breaks.

Sadly, neither promotes economic growth and prosperity, which is what would really benefit the average person. Instead, people cringe at the idea that they might not be able to deduct their home mortgage interest. In reality, the mortgage interest deduction is worth very little to most middle-income families. (I get the feeling sometimes that people think they get to deduct the interest from their tax liability rather than from their taxable income.) Considering today’s low mortgage interest rates, the relatively low marginal income tax rate many people pay, and the fact that the benefit of the deduction is only valuable to the extent it exceeds the standard deduction, many families may not see any benefit from the mortgage interest deduction. But they would probably revolt against any politician who supported its elimination.

Taxpayer Bill Of Rights (TABOR) eviscerated

By Karl Peterjohn

Governor Bill Owens won a Pyrrhic victory in his campaign to eliminate the Taxpayers Bill Of Rights (TABOR) limits on government growth in Colorado. Owens’ short lived Proposition C victory will lead to a host of long term consequences that are mainly negative for Coloradans looking for a better economic future for themselves and their families. Passage of Proposition C is huge defeat for economic freedom across the country and a setback for fiscal responsibility.

The passage of Proposition C will mark a key political and public policy turning point that ends Owens’ career as a fiscally conservative Republican. Owens is truly now a political lame-duck who will be known forever more as the individual primarily responsible for the demise of TABOR. Among fiscal conservatives nationwide he is now a political dead-duck. A couple of years ago National Review featured Owens as a potential presidential model for GOP conservatives. Now he is nothing more than another Republican office holder who “grew in office.”

While it is certainly true that the entire Colorado Democrat Party, their mainstream media allies, and the usual leftie academic types also bear significant responsibility for the outcome of this vote, the face on the evisceration of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights will be, and should be, Governor Bill Owens. Now, TABOR is wounded but it not dead. Here’s what the Left will target next based on the Kansas model.

The Left’s next step will be to figure out a similar evisceration of TABOR’s provisions affecting local governments spending in Colorado. Naturally, extending the time limit for TABOR’s evisceration at the state level will be needed, but that can wait for a couple of years until Democrats return to running all levers of power in state government in Colorado.

Owens success November 1 in passing Proposition C and possibly (the preliminary vote indicates a very narrow defeat for Proposition D that a re-count may reverese) Proposition D will lead to a host of long term negative consequences for Colorado. In the short run the state will be free to go on a spending spree. They will.

The state spending Bacchanalia will be certainly be followed by a fiscal hangover. The spending will be short run stimulative and long run drag on the state. This is not unexpected and in fact, there is a model for this pattern: California. Almost 20 years ago the Gann Amendement that limited state spending growth was a 1970’s (the Gann Amendment was enacted in the wake of Proposition 13) forefather of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights. The spending lobbies in California hated it and roughly a decade after passing it, they succeeded in eliminating Gann.

California has fiscally struggled ever since this cap on government was terminated. Massive fiscal uncertainty was created and the California fiscal climate clouded up in the wake of this policy change. Next week a very pale imitation of a state spending limit will be voted upon in California as part of the four initiative package promoted there by Governor Schwarzennegger. A narrow, 52-48 percent Colorado majority has decided that California is the fiscal path to follow instead of the tried and true Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

As the fiscal hangover appears following the Colorado state spending spree in a few years this is will help my state, Kansas, compete with Colorado. The model Governor Owens and his bipartisan spending coalition has adopted is very similar to the pattern of higher spending adopted by Kansas’ nominally Republican Governor Bill Graves and a bipartisan majority of the Kansas legislature during his second term here (1999-2003). Record spending leading to more taxes leading to more economic stagnation leading to more Kansans leaving for states with more fiscally prudent policies. Kansans number one destination state to move to today is Texas according to census figures. The most delicious irony of the anti-TABOR campaign is the fact that the leading TABOR critic touring Kansas these days is Carol Hedges. She is one of many Kansans who have moved to Colorado which has a large number of expatriate Kansans.

These economic and demographic changes will take years and possibly even decades to fully play out. It is possible that a taxpayers bill of rights will eventually stage a comeback in Colorado, but that is unlikely for the rest of this decade. What is likely is resurrection of the Democratic Party as the Republicans fracture because of Owens’ fiscal apostasy in abandoning TABOR. The next governor of Colorado will be a Democrat.

In the decade before Coloradan’s adopted the Taxpayers Bill of Rights in 1992 there wasn’t much difference in economic growth between my state of Kansas and Colorado. Both states grew below the national average. Colorado did slightly better than Kansas. That lethargic growth ended in 1992 in Colorado with TABOR’s passage. The growth in Colorado compared to Kansas in the 13 years of TABOR was dramatic and compelling. Soon it will be gone. TABOR will be a memory for Coloradans and that state’s economy will drift back into the tax ‘n spend lethargy that is Kansas today. What a shame.

Reports of TABOR’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

by Alan Cobb

The supporters of Big Government were overjoyed this week when 52 percent of Colorado voters backed an effort to fix a glitch in that state’s hugely successful Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights by allowing the state government to keep an estimated $3.7 billion in scheduled tax relief over the next five years.

This vote, they claimed, was a sign that the voters of Colorado had rejected their Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, and that taxpayers across the nation should consider the Colorado vote a reason to oppose similar tax-and-spending limits in their own states.

On the contrary, what Coloradoans actually did on Tuesday is vote to make their Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights look more like the improved version that is currently being proposed here in Kansas and in more than 20 other states.

Colorado approved the nation’s first constitutional Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in 1992. It limits the growth in state spending to the rate of inflation plus population growth, and it requires voter approval before politicians can raise taxes or spend above that limit.

Since Colorado enacted its Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, millions of that state’s citizens have reaped the benefits. For example, in the eight years before Colorado voters enacted the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), the state ranked 43rd nationally in median family income growth. Since then, Colorado is 7th. Before TABOR, Colorado ranked 33rd nationally in job growth. Since then, Colorado is 6th. Before TABOR, Colorado ranked 43rd nationally in economic growth per capita, and since then it ranks 7th. TABOR opponents give the credit for Colorado’s recent economic success to the Rocky Mountains, apparently forgetting that the Rockies didn’t just spring up from the Plains in the 1990s.

Still, like all first-of-its-kind products, Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights wasnt perfect. Think of Colorado’s TABOR as the first version of amazing new computer technology that helps millions of people become wealthier and more productive: overwhelmingly positive, a benefit to millions, but with a minor bug or two. In the case of Colorado’s TABOR, the bug is called the ratchet effect.

Under the ratchet effect, when state revenue levels dip during a recession, the TABOR limit drops with it, and it cant automatically increase to the pre-recession high-water mark. Colorado’s TABOR also doesnt have any effective “Rainy Day” funds that would smooth out budget shortfalls in the lean years. This ratchet effect, when coupled with a competing constitutional amendment unique to Colorado that mandates large automatic increases in education spending, can create a budget squeeze. Fortunately, this ratchet effect bug in Colorado’s TABOR version 1.0 has been corrected in the TABOR version 2.0 that is now being considered in other states.

It would obviously be ridiculous to declare the computer age dead or to call for the abolition of laptops because of a minor bug that can and will be fixed in subsequent versions. The cost of doing that would far outweigh the benefits that will come by improving and promoting a very effective and popular product.

Colorado’s voters did not throw out their Taxpayers Bill of Rights. They used their TABOR-provided right to temporarily suspended scheduled tax relief in an attempt to fix the ratchet effect — essentially trying to make their TABOR look a little more like the improved TABOR version 2.0 that is under consideration in other states.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights’ death have been greatly exaggerated. The truth is Colorado’s taxpayers just endorsed the improvements that we’ve proposed, which would help bring tax relief, economic freedom and a generally higher standard of living to millions of Americans, including many Kansans.

Alan Cobb is the Director of the Kansas chapter of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

What Is the true state of public education in Kansas?

On a web page that is part of the National Education Association website, we can read some good news about Kansas schools. Here are some of the headlines to be found on that page:

Math Scores Are Among the Nation’s Best
Math Scores Are Up
Among the Best in the Nation in Students Going on to College
College Entrance Exams Are Among the Nation’s Best
Among the Best Gains in the Nation in Students Going to College
ACT Scores Are Rising
More Students Are Taking ACTs
Public School Students Outperform Private School Students on AP Exams
AP Scores Are Among the Nation’s Best
More Public Schools Offer AP Courses
Public School Students Outperform Private School Students on AP Exams
Among the Best in the Nation in Students Receiving a High Score on AP Calculus Exams

You can read the entire story here: Good News about Public Schools in Kansas.

These headlines stand in contrast to what the Kansas Supreme Court has said, and to what we were told this summer during the Kansas Legislature’s special session. We were told that Kansas schools were in grave danger, that Kansas schools were not adequately funded, and that if the legislature didn’t do its job and adequately fund schools, then Kansas schoolchildren were in danger of being outperformed by children in all other states.

But here we have the teachers union citing much evidence that Kansas schools are among the nation’s best.

So what is the true state of public education in Kansas? There are many studies and statistics available. Many contradict the conclusions made by others. Constituencies such as the teachers unions and the education establishment tell us they have only the welfare of the children as their concern, but many times they act otherwise. Who is qualified to decide what to do?

The answer is simple. Ultimately, parents have the responsibility for educating their children. They are the ones in the best position to know what is best for their children. We need to empower parents to be in control of education. The way to do that is to give parents a choice as to where to send their children to school. For most people, that choice doesn’t exist in a meaningful way. School choice through vouchers can give them that choice.

The teachers union and education establishment say that competition and school choice through vouchers will ruin public education. But if they’re doing as good a job as the headlines above indicate, they should fare well under competition.

How one school found a way to spell success

In the October 14, 2005 Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger wrote about an elementary school in Little Rock, Arkansas that experienced a remarkable turnaround in student achievement. This poor school, where 92% of the students live at or below the poverty level, was able to increase its scores on an achievement test by 17% in one year.

What did Meadowcliff Elementary School do? Did it build new buildings and hire new teachers to reduce class size? Did it implement new curriculum? Did the local board of education hire an extra assistant superintendent to oversee the school? Did it increase teacher pay?

It’s the last that the school did, although not in the way the teachers unions would dictate. Instead, the school was able to implement a bonus system, whereby teachers would earn extra money based on student performance. Mr. Henninger reports the results: “Twelve teachers received performance bonuses ranging from $1,800 to $8,600. The rest of the school’s staff also shared in the bonus pool. That included the cafeteria ladies, who started eating with the students rather than in a nearby lounge, and the custodian, who the students saw taking books out of Carter’s Corner, the ‘library’ outside the principal’s office. Total cost: $134,800. The tests cost about $10,000.”

The bonuses were funded by a private donor, which allowed the school to bypass the teachers union. The teachers union opposed the second year of the bonus program because it was to be paid from the school district’s regular budget. The union insisted that the teachers at Meadowcliff vote for a contract waiver, and 100% of the teacher voted for the waiver. The fact that the teachers union would oppose something that was demonstrably beneficial for the students gives us another clue as to the union’s true constituency.

This experience shows that sometimes little, simple things can make a huge difference.

More information: PEF Announces Student Achievement and Teacher Reward Project, LR elementary scores bonuses for test gains.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Book Review: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Malcolm Gladwell
Little, Brown and Company, 2000

Writing from Lexington, Kentucky

(I picked up the book from the library because in a hurry, I thought it might be about my ragdoll cat whose name is Tippy. But I decided to read it anyway.)

This is an interesting book that tells us that often the way to affect change is not through heavy-handed techniques, but by paying attention to small things that can make all the difference. Mr. Gladwell tells us about the Law of the Few (connectors, mavens, and salesmen), which means that the personal characteristics of people make a big difference. The Stickiness Factor explains how small changes in the presentation or characteristics of something can make a huge difference in its effectiveness. The Power of Context tells us how seemingly small changes like the vigilant effort to remove graffiti in New York City subway cars led to a larger reduction in serious crime in the subways.

I think this book has some good ideas and can be helpful for anyone who wants to influence others. Many interesting examples are used to illustrate the lessons of this book. Author’s website for this book.

How government destroys self-reliance

Writing from Lexington, Kentucky

There is a problem when government interferes with what people should be doing for themselves. Government can destroy the incentive to provide for yourself and your family.

For the families of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorists attack on New York, a board determined how much the family should receive in compensation based on a variety of factors, including the age and earning potential of the deceased. Then, the award was reduced by the amount of any life insurance the deceased had. We should ask what is the message given when government does this? What is the incentive to forgo current spending in order to buy life insurance, when the government may take the benefit that you paid for away from you? That’s exactly what happened to the people who had their own life insurance. The government took it from them, and they were worse off for having it. Conversely, for those who did not provide their own insurance, the government provided it for them, at no cost.

For those who suffered losses due to floods from hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, that state’s attorney general is suing insurance companies to force them to pay for flood damage, even though the usual homeowner’s policy fairly shouts that flood damage isn’t covered. If Mississippi succeeds in forcing insurance companies to pay for flood damage, what message does that send to those who sought to protect and provide for themselves by paying flood insurance premiums for years? At minimum, the government ought to refund the premiums they paid, if government is to give the same benefit to those who paid no premiums.

These two examples illustrate how, in an effort to appear compassionate and help unfortunate victims of tragedy, government destroys the incentive to provide for one’s own self and family. When government forces the same outcome for everyone, the same result for those who sacrificed and prepared and for those who didn’t, we might ask why even bother preparing?

How government insurance destroyed New Orleans

Writing from Chicago, Illinois

In the September 3, 2005 New York Times, columnist John Tierney educates us on the difference between private insurance and government insurance. Currently, the flood insurance that’s available through the federal government, because the premiums are so low, doesn’t fully reflect the costs of assuming that risk. And even as cheap as the flood insurance rates are, not many people bought it.

What’s wrong with government insurance that’s priced too low to cover the risks it insures? First, the taxpayers as a whole have to pay to subsidize something that benefits only a few. Second, as Mr. Tierney writes, building strong levees is a long-term project that protects against something that probably won’t happen before the next election — the time horizon of most politicians. “Members of Congress will always have higher priorities than paying for levees in someone else’s state.”

Also, government insurance isn’t subject to the discipline of having to make a profit. Private insurance companies must earn a profit over the long haul, so they will charge rates commensurate with the risk, and they will seek ways to reduce the risk. They might decline to insure property in the riskiest areas, and they will pressure governments to build and maintain the protections that, sadly, we learned failed in New Orleans when levees broke under conditions they should have survived. Private companies have the discipline to do this. Governments don’t.

In his column, Mr. Tierney tells us the history of fire protection in America, and how private fire insurance has worked to ensure the fire safety we have today.

Some may say that the poor of New Orleans couldn’t afford to live where they did if they had to pay flood insurance premiums that were priced properly. That’s something that government can’t cure — except that government will try by spending untold billions. But after New Orleans is rebuilt, it is likely that before too long the same situation will exist as did before Katrina. Do we really expect anything else?

How About Something Simple Like the Truth

How About Something Simple Like the Truth
Alan Cobb, Americans For Prosperity, Kansas

I had a great time visiting 23 cities across Kansas last week to promote the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). The number of supporters vastly outnumbered the opponents, but both sides had more folks come out than I ever imagined.

During the tour, several things became clear. While TABOR supporters offer hope and solutions to getting out of our economic slump, opponents offer nothing but nay-saying, scare tactics and misinformation.

In fact, the flagrantly dishonest information being spread is simply breathtaking.

Let’s remember all the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights does is allow Kansas voters to approve tax increases and spending increases above the rate of inflation plus population growth.

The purpose of TABOR is simple. Government should have to live within its means just as Kansas families and businesses do every day.

Opponents cite Colorado and make claims TABOR decimates the economy with few or no facts. The truth is Colorado has one of the strongest economies in America. How in the world Kansas’ Regents head Donna Shank could say that Colorado’s economy is “running on life support” makes one wonder.

Although Shank recently stated publicly she wanted to research the subject and ask “tough questions,” when she showed up at the American Dream Express bus stop in Liberal, she didn’t stay long enough for even an easy question. In fact, the short presentations made by myself, State Rep. Larry Powell and State Senator Tim Huelskamp didn’t elicit one question from Shank

For those unable to ask questions during our bus tour, below are myths and facts surrounding TABOR:

Myth: TABOR hurts the poor. Fact: Colorado’s poverty rate is lower than Kansas’
Myth: Thousands of teachers would be eliminated. Fact: Colorado has gained more than 11,000 teachers since 1994.
Myth: TABOR has hurt teachers in Colorado Fact: Colorado teachers are paid more than teachers in Kansas.
Myth: TABOR has devastated higher-ed in Colorado. Fact: U.S. News ranks the University of Colorado as the 78th best university in the country and ranks K.U. 97th. Colorado State was ranked 120th and K-State wasn’t ranked.

Kansas doesn’t have a state university among the best 120 masters-level universities in the county, and Colorado does.

Both K.U. and K-State have higher tuition than the Univ. of Colorado.

Myth: Colorado Gov. Owens wants to repeal TABOR. Fact: Gov. Owens has repeatedly stated he wishes Colorado’s TABOR was like Kansas’ TABOR.
Myth: Kansas government spending as a percent of income hasn’t changed over the last 30 years. Fact: State spending as a percent of income increased almost 50% over the last 30 years.
Myth: TABOR has devastated the Colorado economy. Fact: Prior to TABOR passing in Colorado in 1992, Kansas and Colorado’s economic growth was similar. From 1984 to 1992, Colorado ranked 43rd in median family income growth and Kansas ranked 48th. From 1992 to 2004, Kansas ranked 44th in family income growth and Colorado ranked 7th.

In 1980, Kansas per capita income rank was 16th, Colorado was 12th. By 2004, Kansas per capita income rank was 29th, Colorado was 8th.

From 1980 to 1992, Kansas ranked 43rd in productivity growth and Colorado ranked 26th. Colorado ranks 4th in productivity growth since 1992, Kansas ranks 37th.

Colorado ranks 1st in concentration of technology jobs, 2nd in number of new companies per capita, and 4th in estimated long-term job growth.

Let’s do a service to all interested in this debate and quit the ridiculous demagoguery.

There is a reason TABOR opponents have stooped to scare tactics in defense of the old “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. Scare tactics are what you use when you don’t have the facts on your side.

Criticism of Bob Corkins reveals true motivations

I have not met Bob Corkins, but I have read some of his articles. I published several on the Voice For Liberty in Wichita. He is in favor of school choice, and that is one thing that the education establishment, education bureaucrats, and teachers unions are very much opposed to. Never mind that allowing school choice could be the quickest and easiest thing we can do to improve schools in Kansas. As Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby has noted regarding school choice in Milwaukee:

From 1998-1999 onwards, the schools that faced the most competition from the vouchers improved student achievement radically–by about 0.6 of a standard deviation each year. That is an enormous, almost unheard-of, improvement. Keep in mind the schools in question had had a long history of low achievement. Yet they were able to get their act together quickly. The most threatened schools improved the most, not only compared to other schools in Milwaukee but also compared to other schools in the state of Wisconsin that served poor, urban students. … Milwaukee shows what public school administrators can tell you: Schools can improve if they are under serious competition.

I would like to hope that the appointment of Mr. Corkins will lead to thoughtful debate in Kansas about education instead of more self-serving pronouncements from the education establishment and teachers unions. But the shrill criticism does not give me hope.

From Karl Peterjohn, Kansas Taxpayers Network:

Bob Corkins is an excellent choice as the next commissioner for education in Kansas. He is one of the top experts on school finance in this state with excellent legislative contacts and he has his own children in public schools. A dirty little secret is that some of the government school officials children are attending or have attended private schools.

The government school establishment, the left wing Kansas press, the left wing elected officials have all responded with outrage to his appointment. The vile, hateful, and wildly inaccurate statements from tax ‘n spend legislators like Sen. John Vratil, Sen. Tony Hensley, Sen. Jean Schodorf, state school board member Bill Wagnon, and editorials in newspapers like the Wichita Eagle, the Lawrence Journal World, and the rest of the left-wing press in this state demonstrate their commitment to the state school monopoly.

The political Left in Kansas endorses big, bureaucratic government that provides a state monopoly and perpetual demands for tax dollars for the public schools. This education is often strong on indoctrination and weak on learning to read, write, and computing numbers without a calculator. Sadly, state monopoly performs poorly for many Kansas children and then their families must struggle to either fund an alternative education at home or in a non public school. Bob Corkins will be working with the majority of the Kansas state board of education to improve education in Kansas. His appointment is a breath of fresh air for Kansas education.

The following was written by Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler:

Elitist Arrogance in Kansas

This week a dear friend and colleague of mine, Mr. Bob Corkins, was selected as the new Education Commissioner of Kansas. He brings to the position a wealth of experience: a background running a small business, strong experience promoting a positive business climate in Kansas, a reputation as a leading education budget expert, his first-hand knowledge of the Legislative process for nearly a decade, his legal expertise per education lawsuits, and national exposure as a top-rate policy analyst.

For one who is to serve as CEO of a department of 200 employees –respond to the wishes of an elected 10-member State Board of Education — watch over 300 school districts — and account for more than $4.5 billion of taxpayer dollars — Bob would seem to be a perfect match.

But for the elitists in Kansas today — he is not qualified.

The excuses were many — he is not a superintendent or a classroom teacher. Heck, he’s not even a curriculum specialist or a master teacher. And he’s never even been the assistant secretary to the vice-principal of finance for the instruction of the English-as-a-second-Language students. And, by goodness, the guy doesn’t even have a Ph.D. in Education — or even a Master’s.

The education insiders have gone ballistic. One superintendent claims that Corkins doesn’t care about the children, because he doesn’t support a massive tax and spending increase (which, of course, would increase the superintendent’s personal pocketbook). You might tell Bob’s Boy Scout Troop that he doesn’t care about kids.

One Board of Education member — the husband of Governor Sebelius’ Secretary of the Department of Revenue — fell into a fit of babbling and make a nonsensical comparison of the appointment to the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina. And then he threw out some disparaging personal attack on the integrity and intelligence of Corkins.

The assault by the elected elitists continued next with attacks by Senator John Vratil, the all-powerful vice-chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Vratil compared Corkins’ appointment to making Saddam Hussein president of the United States. (That is a quote!) Bob Corkins a terrorist?!?

Of course, don’t you know, Mr. Vratil is obviously more qualified in education than Bob — for he has law degree from KU — hmm — the same school as Corkins. But don’t forget, as a trial lawyer Vratil has not only sued the state of Kansas (and lost) for more education spending — he also receives considerable income serving as counsel to various school districts. But rest assured, neither the Kansas Bar Association, nor the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications has found any conflict of interest between Senator Vratil serving as counsel to certain school districts and his votes for more taxpayer dollars to these districts.

Based on the elitist disgorging, it is abundantly clear that Bob Corkins is the perfect man for this job. We need an Education Commissioner who can work with the State Board of Education, the Legislature, the 300 elected school Boards, and the taxpayers of Kansas to develop a 21st Century Vision for education in Kansas. Instead of simply focusing on spending more money doing more of the same, it is time our government education system focused on real improvement, cost efficiency, and responsiveness to the needs of parents and students.

I call upon Senator John Vratil to do the right thing — apologize for your outrageous remarks. How do over-the-top insults, name-calling and personal attacks do anything to help the children of Kansas?

Book Review: Winning The Future

Winning The Future
Newt Gingrich
Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2005

This book by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich outlines his prescription for what America needs to do to avoid decline. The five threats Gingrich identifies are Islamic terrorism, that God will be driven from American life, that America will lose its patriotic sense of self, that America will lose its economic supremacy to China and India, and that future demands of social security and Medicare will collapse our system.

To counter these threats, Gingrich says we need a 21st century contract with America. The contract is quoted at the end of this review, as it appears on the author’s web site newt.org/winningthefuture.

I particularly found what Gingrich has to say about American education important. He quotes the Hart-Rudman Commission on American National Security, which in 2001 concluded that the greatest threat to America was a terrorist attack. The second greatest threat is “the failure of math and science education. In fact, in an unanimously approved provision, the Commission said that the failure of math and science education is a greater threat than any conceivable conventional war in the next quarter century.”

Further, “For the last twenty years, we have tried to improve education while accepting the fundamental principles of a failed system guarded by education bureaucrats and teachers unions.” Also: “There has been a steady growth in the amount of money spent on red tape, bureaucracy, and supervision. We now have curriculum specialists who consult curriculum consultants who work with curriculum supervisors who manage curriculum department heads who occasionally actually meet with teachers.”

Interestingly, Gingrich proposes paying students, starting in middle school, to learn math and science. What a refreshing idea! Instead of them learning to work at McDonald’s after school for spending money, they could earn it by taking the tough courses that so many young children seek to avoid.

This idea, and other creative and refreshing ideas make this book worthwhile to read.

The 21st Century Contract with America

I

Defend America and our allies from those who would destroy us. To achieve security, we will develop the intelligence, diplomatic, information, defense, and homeland security systems and resources for success.

II

Transform the Social Security system into personal savings accounts that will enable every worker to have higher retirement incomes from their own work and avoid the need for financial support from their children.

III

Recenter America on the Creator from Whom all our liberties come. We will insist on a judiciary that understands the centrality of God in American history and reasserts the legitimacy of recognizing the Creator in public life.

IV

Establish patriotic education for our children and patriotic immigration for new Americans. To achieve this,we will renew our commitment to education about American citizenship based on American history and an understanding of the Founding Fathers and the core values of American civilization.We will insist that both our children
and immigrants learn the key values and key facts of American history as the foundation of their growth as citizens.

V

Meet the triple economic challenges of an explosion in scientific and technological knowledge, an increasingly competitive world market, and the rise of China and India by implementing:

A new system of civil justice to reduce the burden of lawsuits and to incentivize young people to go into professions other than the law.
A dramatically simplified tax code that favors savings, entrepreneurship, investment, and constant modernization of equipment and technology.
Math and science learning equal to any in the world and educating enough young Americans to both discover the science of the future and to compete successfully in national security and the economy with other well-educated societies.
Investing in the scientific revolutions that are going to transform our world—particularly in energy, space, and the environment.
Transforming health care into a 21st Century Intelligent Health System that improves our health while lowering costs dramatically. In the process, American health care will become our highest value export and foreign exchange earning sector.

VI

Work to include every American in a system of patriotic stewardship so every person has a real opportunity to pursue happiness as their Creator endowed. Prepare for the aging of the baby boomers and their children so we can have active healthy aging with the best quality of life, the longest period of independent living, and the greatest prosperity. We will:

Develop a system in which those who wish to stay economically active are encouraged and incentivized to do so because active people live longer and healthier, have a greater opportunity to pursue happiness, and are less of a burden on their fellow citizens;
Develop a system of independent living and assisted living that increases the years in which people can be on their own and in most cases enables people to live their entire lives with freedom and dignity;
Develop a new model of quality long-term care in which both the care and the quality of life are compatible with a twenty-first century American expectation of progress and innovation.
Use the new technologies and new scientific knowledge to turn disabilities into capabilities and change government regulations and programs to help every American achieve the fullest possible ability to pursue happiness.

VII

Change the mindset of big government in Washington by replacing bureaucratic public administration with Entrepreneurial Public Management so government can operate with the speed, effectiveness, and efficiency of the information age.

VIII

Balance the federal budget and insist on a lean government, low tax, low interest rate economy to maximize growth in a competitive world.

IX

Insist on congressional reform to make the legislative branch responsive to the needs of the 21st century.

X

Ensure an election process that is honest, accountable, accurate, and free from the threat of illegal votes or subsequent litigation.

If we insist on these goals and insist on electing leaders at all levels dedicated to these goals, we will be able to leave our children and grandchildren an America of safety, health, prosperity, and freedom that would make our parents and grandparents proud.We too will have done our duty to our country and our achievements as citizens will be worthy of the America we inherited.

TABORTruth.org Not Quite So

Right away the website tabortruth.org states: “TABOR proponents are baiting citizens with the allure of tax cuts, …”

My understanding of proposals for a TABOR in Kansas doesn’t include tax cuts, except in one case. That’s because taxing and spending will proceed in this way: First, spend up to the limit imposed by the sum of inflation plus population growth. Then, put some tax money away in the emergency and budget stabilization fund. Then — and only then — if there were excess tax revenues, they would be sent back to the taxpayer. This doesn’t sound to me like much of a tax cut.

It is likely that politicians will vote to spend all they can under TABOR limits, so it is quite likely that Kansas spending and taxes will continue to rise. It’s just that now there is a limit on the rate of growth. In the peculiar language of Washington and Topeka, a reduction in the rate of growth is called a “cut,” so maybe in the hearts and minds of the authors of tabortruth.org, there will be “tax cuts.”

George W. Bush leads in discretionary spending

In an article published by The Cato Institute (Bush Beats Johnson: Comparing the Presidents), we can read this:

Revised data released during the summer by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provide analysts the ability to make side-by-side comparisons of the spending habits of each president during the last 40 years. All presidents presided over net increases in spending overall, though some were bigger spenders than others. As it turns out, George W. Bush is one of the biggest spenders of them all. In fact, he is an even bigger spender than Lyndon B. Johnson in terms of discretionary spending.

This is before the prescription drug plan spending has started, and before costs from the recent hurricanes were known.

It makes me long for the days of the Clinton presidency, when a Congress led by the opposing party seemed to hold spending in check. But now that Republicans hold both Congress and the White House, it seems that spending is spiraling out of control.

Fact Sheet: The Truth About Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amendment has been an overwhelming success in Colorado. Colorado’s TABOR has successfully restrained the growth of state government and allowed millions of taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money.

Since Colorado enacted the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in 1992, the state has experienced one of the strongest economic growth rates in the country and has provided taxpayers with more than $3 billion in tax rebates and refunds.

Colorado experienced a challenge almost entirely because of Amendment 23 — a state constitutional amendment that mandates large increases in spending on education programs. The ultimate answer to Colorado’s budget challenge is the repeal of Amendment 23.

While Amendment 23 is the main cause of Colorado’s challenge, that state’s version of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights isn’t perfect. That’s exactly why the TABOR legislation proposed in Kansas includes key improvements that will help us achieve even better results than Colorado has enjoyed.

One key improvement we’re proposing to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in Kansas is the inclusion of budget stabilization and emergency funds that will help us better deal with economic downturns. In periods of rapid economic growth, when revenue exceeds the TABOR limit, surplus revenue would be deposited into the emergency fund and budget stabilization fund. When the cap is reached on those funds, surplus revenue is then offset by tax cuts or tax rebates. In periods of recession, when revenue is falling, money is then transferred from the budget stabilization fund.

Another important improvement we’ve proposed to the TABOR in Kansas is the elimination of the so-called “ratchet-down” effect. In Colorado, when revenues drop during a recession, the TABOR spending and revenue limit drops to that lower level and will grow from there — even after the economy recovers and revenues bounce back. That’s not the way it’ll work in our state. Here, when revenues drop during a recession, the “Rainy Day” fund allows TABOR spending and revenue limit to remain at the pre-recession high-water mark and only kick back in after revenues recover to pre-recession levels.

These three key differences between a Kansas Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and Colorado’s — the absence of constitutionally mandated annual spending increases here, the ratchet-down correction, and the budget stabilization and emergency funds — means our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights will give us stronger economic growth, more tax relief and restrained government spending — without any of the minor side effects Colorado has experienced.

Courtesy of Americans For Prosperity, Kansas Chapter.

TABOR Fact Sheet: Kansas vs. Colorado

TABOR Fact Sheet: Kansas vs. Colorado

Estimated at 10.4 percent of income, Kansas’s state/local tax burden percentage ranks 14th highest nationally, well above the national average of 10.1 percent.

Kansas taxpayers pay $3,629 per-capita in state and local taxes.

Kansas ranks 32nd in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index: Missouri (11th), Oklahoma (14th), and Colorado (8th).

Source: Tax Foundation

Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights: GOOD FOR COLORADO…GOOD FOR KANSAS*

3-year average poverty rate, from 2002 to 2004

Colorado: 9.8 percent
Kansas: 10.7 percent

Change from 2003 to 2004

Colorado: .1 percent
Kansas: .7 percent

Since TABOR was enacted in Colorado in 1992:

Colorado ranks 3rd in population growth, Kansas ranks 36th.
Colorado ranks 3rd in personal income growth, Kansas ranks 41st.

In 1992

Colorado ranked 18th in per capita income
Kansas ranked 24th in per capita income

In 2003

Colorado ranked 9th in per capita income
Kansas ranked 28th. In per capita income
Colorado ranked 6th in per capita income growth
Kansas ranked 30th in per capita income growth

Since 1992

Colorado ranks 3rd in productivity growth
Kansas ranks 32nd in productivity growth
Prior to the passage of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in Colorado in 1992, economic growth in Colorado and Kansas was similar.

From 1980 to 1992:

Kansas per capita income growth ranked 47th, Colorado was 34th.
Kansas ranked 25th in population growth, Colorado ranked 13th.

Income

Kansas rank for per capita income in 1980 was #16, Colorado was #12
Kansas rank for per capita income in 2004 was #29, Colorado was #8

Median Household income

1984 rank: Kansas 14, Colorado 10
2004 rank: Kansas 36, Colorado 10

State Economic Productivity (Gross State Product)**
Economic growth from 1980 – 1992

Colorado rank #26
Kansas rank #43

Economic growth from 1993 – 2003

Colorado rank #3
Kansas rank #37

Job Growth**
June 04 to June 05 private sector job growth:

Colorado ranks #16
Kansas ranks #32

June 03 to June 05 private sector job growth:

Colorado ranks #21
Kansas ranks #34

Education* **

Kansas 2003 Spending Per Student ($) 7,454
Colorado 2003 Spending Per Student ($) 7,384
Kansas Bachelor’s degree or higher, persons age 25+, 2000 25.8 percent
Coloardo Bachelor’s degree or higher, persons age 25+, 2000 32.7 percent

*U.S. Census Bureau
*Bureau of Economic Analysis
*Standard & Poor’s

Courtesy of Americans For Prosperity, Kansas Chapter.

Employer-paid health insurance

In the past I have written on how the system in America where almost everyone gets their health insurance through their job (Let’s Pay for Our Own Health Insurance) does not serve us well. Now I have become aware of even more evidence as to why we should all choose and pay for our own health insurance.

A Harvard study (Illness And Injury As Contributors To Bankruptcy) concluded that of families that declared bankruptcy, about half cited medical bills as the reason. Of those, 76% had medical insurance at the time they became sick. Some of the problem is that when people become seriously ill, they can’t work. After they lose their job they have no income, and they can’t pay the premium to continue their existing coverage.

Many types of insurance, and some health insurance policies, I have found, offer an option called “waiver of premium.” This option, if selected and paid for, pays the policy’s premiums when the insured can’t. This would help in the case where people are too sick to work and can’t afford their premiums. They would still be covered.

If your employer, through whom you get your health insurance, doesn’t offer this waiver of premium option, you realistically have no way to obtain it. But if we all chose and paid for our own health insurance, those who wished to could have this option. This is just one more reason why the current system of employer-provided health insurance does not work well.

Randy Scholfield and less government

In an editorial in the September 18, 2005 Wichita Eagle, Randy Scholfield wrote “Less government is a laudable goal.”

The dictionary defines laudable as “Deserving commendation; praiseworthy” or “Deserving honor, respect, or admiration.” Mr. Scholfield’s past writings don’t treat the goal of less government this way. In fact, it doesn’t seem there is a single government program that Mr. Scholfield doesn’t like and praise.

On September 13, 2004, he advocated more funding for early childhood education, writing “… the state Legislature needs to do the right thing for the state’s children and future, and invest in early childhood education.”

He seems to automatically believe that schools need more money.

He believes in government subsidies. In an editorial in The Wichita Eagle published on April 19, 2005, he wrote: “Wichita should stick to its subsidies. They’re fostering competition, not stifling it, and paying off big-time for the community by lowering airfares and boosting economic development.”

He has consistently supported the government building the downtown Wichita arena.

He advocates more government spending on arts (August 9, 2005 “Culture requires community support”).

He supports more funding for Exploration Place.

Mr. Scholfield, is there any government program you have opposed, any example that would lend credibility to your claim that less government is a laudable goal?

Paul Jacobs, Organ

On September 20, 2005, Paul Jacobs of the Julliard School of Music played a recital as part of the Rie Bloomfield Organ Series at Wiedemann Recital Hall, Wichita State University.

I thought Mr. Jacobs was a wonderful player. He seems, at least to my untrained ear, to take more liberties with rhythm and phrasing while playing Bach than other organists. He spoke to the audience, explaining the pieces he was to play in more detail than many organists do.

He played two movements of Olivier Messiaen’s La Nativite du Seigneur (The Nativity of Our Savior), including Desseins Eternels (Eternal Designs). I guess no one told him that mentioning religion and design in Kansas could be troublesome! He also asked us to look at the audience and be aware that there aren’t many young people in attendance. He also talked about how music has become part of the background noise of our lives, and that how important it is to listen to and concentrate on good music.

There seemed to be more people in the audience than is usual for these recitals. Mr. Jacobs received enthusiastic applause and played an encore. I hope he will return to play again.

Judicial abuse authorized in Kansas

Thank you to Karl Peterjohn of the Kansas Taxpayers Network for this fine article that explains the problems that Kansas should be aware of in the Kansas Supreme Court. Readers of this website may remember that I joined Karl in filing ethics complaints against Justices Allegrucci and Nuss (The Ethics Case Against Justice Donald L. Allegrucci, The Ethics Case Against Justice Lawton R. Nuss). I thought the case we made against Justice Allegrucci was compelling, but the Commission on Judicial Qualifications didn’t think so (The Wrong Canon; The Wrong Allegrucci). But someone did, as his wife — the link to Governor Kathleen Sebelius that was the source of the ethics problem — resigned her position. Readers might be asking where is the coverage in Kansas news media of these cases.

Judicial Abuse Authorized in Kansas
By Karl Peterjohn, Executive Director, Kansas Taxpayers Network

A closed door meeting in early September in Topeka provided the excuse to expand judicial abuse at the highest level of Kansas government. The Commission on Judicial Qualifications met to consider the complaint that Kansas Supreme Court Justice Lawton Nuss should not participate in the school finance lawsuit. This commission decided that Justice Nuss did not need to recuse himself from ruling on this billion dollar lawsuit.

Prior to joining the Kansas Supreme Court in 2002, Nuss had been an attorney representing the lead school district plaintiff that is participating in this lawsuit. The Salina public schools had joined with Dodge City public schools in filing and financing this lawsuit back in the 1990’s and Nuss was one of Salina’s lawyers at that time. Nuss should have recused himself from this case since he had represented one of the plaintiffs when this case arrived in front of the court.

Three years ago when Nuss joined the Kansas Supreme Court he was expected to obey the ethics rules that supposedly exist for the members of Kansas courts. The judicial canon includes provisions that judges are supposed to avoid all appearances of impropriety. These rules in part say, “A judge shall not allow family, social, political, or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment. A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall the judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.”

Would you like to go in front a judge who used to represent the person who is suing you? No one would want to do so. This is basic legal ethics. However, you are now a target of an aggressive tax funded plaintiff that is suing you indirectly as a taxpayer. Millions of tax dollars have been spent to finance this school finance litigation in Kansas. The school districts are now suing to transfer $1 billion from the private sector to the public school districts every year. This year they received $290 million more than last year. Next year is likely to be even more costly to Kansas taxpayers.

This appointed commission has now decided that it is perfectly appropriate for Justice Nuss to rule that hundreds of millions of additional tax dollars must be spent for one of the clients he use to represent according to this judicial commission. Well, who appointed this commission of judges, ex-judges, lawyers, and mainly members of the news media? The Kansas Supreme Court appointed them to their four year terms.

So who will oversee the appointed members of this court? The answer is that the Kansas Supreme Court is untouched by ethics rules for the rest of the legal profession. Nuss’ case follows the recent dismissal of similar ethics complaints by this commission. The second complaint concerned Justice Donald Allegrucci, whose wife was until recently the chief of staff as well as the 2002 campaign manager for Governor Sebelius. Governor Sebelius has been supporting the school district’s position that state spending must be dramatically raised.

An oxymoron is a word that describes a phrase that combines contradictory elements like, “thunderous silence.” The Kansas Supreme Court now orders legislators on what is appropriate as well as what amount should be in the appropriation, issues edicts that could shut down the schools, and capriciously re-writes Kansas law. The term, “judicial ethics,” for the highest court in this state is now an oxymoron. Kansans need to know that the appointed judicial elite is now untouchable by their own ethics rules. The fiscal abuse of Kansans by this state’s highest and, arguably, most activist state court in the entire country continues. Every Kansas taxpayer will have to pay this court’s huge bill.

Individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas

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