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Voice For Liberty

What to do about gasoline prices

Almost anything the government does in response to the recent high gasoline prices is bound to fail.

Why I Voted Against the Amendment

On April 5, 2005, the State of Kansas voted on an amendment to our constitution. The amendment would prohibit same-sex marriage.

I voted against this amendment. I don't think we want a government that cares who we decide to marry. Before the election, The Wichita Eagle published a list of over 1,000 benefits that arise from marriage. This list alone, outside the context of the controversy over gay marriage, shows just how intrusive government at all levels is. Even if we agree that marriage is a good thing, it doesn't follow that we want a government to practically force it upon us. Granting these benefits treats people who choose not to marry as second-class citizens.

The amendment passed with 70% of the vote.

How to decide arts funding

In an editorial in The Wichita Eagle on August 9, 2005, Randy Schofield wrote, explaining why government should support culture: "Because cultural amenities make Wichita a more desirable place to live, work and visit, and thus help realize Wichita's quality of life and economic development goals." We might examine some of the ideas and reasoning behind this statement.

Untold and Under Reported Stories From the Kansas Special Session: Part II

Thank you, Karl, for this insight into the character of our leading Kansas politicians, and for another example of how Kansas newspapers and other news media aren't giving us the information we need.


Untold and Under Reported Stories From the Kansas Special Session: Part II

By Karl Peterjohn, Executive Director, Kansas Taxpayers Network

Early in the special session of the Kansas legislature the house speaker, Representative Doug Mays, R-Topeka, spoke one-on-one with Governor Sebelius. Following this conversation Rep. Mays relayed his discussion with the governor to his house GOP caucus as he laid out a variety of public policy options for the special session. This event deserves more public attention than it has received.

Speaker Mays said that he and Governor Sebelius did not find a lot of common ground. Mays did say that the governor was willing to do a deal. The governor wanted expanded gambling while the conservative GOP legislators behind Mays wanted a constitutional amendment to defend the budgetary authority of elected officials from the Kansas courts.

The two constitutional amendments both ended in failure on the house floor with 41 of 42 house Democrats voting against both proposals to limit the Kansas Supreme Court's spending edict. A 2/3 vote or 84 out of 125 house members would be needed to send a constitutional amendment to Kansas voters after two separate amendments passed the senate. Unified house Democrats have the votes to stop any constitutional amendment.

Pricing a Car, Pricing a School?

Only when value is determined by a voluntary exchange does the price send reliable messages to producers and consumers. Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman observed that "Anything that prevents prices from expressing freely the conditions of demand or supply interferes with the transmission of accurate information."

In utter disregard of this principle, Kansas is now under Supreme Court order to list the manufacturer's suggested retail price for K-12 education. You can bet it will be no mere suggestion once the experts finish their calculations.

Favorite Internet and computer things

Google Alerts

Google Alerts let you "save" a Google search and have the results emailed to you as new web pages that match your searches are found. This is an invaluable way to keep up-to-date on topics you are interested in.

Book Review: Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy

This book is a general introduction to economics written in a non-technical way. It provides excellent coverage of many introductory topics in economics, and you don't have to be a mathematical sophisticate to understand it. It is very readable by anyone who is interested in this topic.

Governor Claims Growth While Jobs Disappear

Governor Claims Growth While Jobs Disappear
By Karl Peterjohn, Executive Director Kansas Taxpayers Network

Governor Sebelius' press office issued a news release headlined, "Kansas economy continues to grow under Governor's leadership," August 4. The same day the Wichita Eagle headlined the layoffs in Winfield as 1/3 of the 600 employees at Rubbermaid Inc. were laid off.

Is the Kansas economy growing or are the layoffs plaguing the private sector in Kansas aberrations? Recently, the Kansas branch of Americans for Prosperity has been reporting that for every new state and local government jobs that have been created in Kansas in the last five years, a larger number of private sector jobs have disappeared.

This is a distressing trend when Kansas state and local government employment is measured. Kansas is already one of the top states for government employment as a percentage of the workforce when census figures compare the Sunflower state to our neighbors.

Despite the shrinking private sector in Kansas, it is certainly true that state revenues are growing. If there had been any limits on fiscal spending, there would have been plenty of money to start making the Kansas tax climate competitive. Instead, the money was spent by profligate "moderates" from both major political parties that dominate the statehouse. Governor Sebelius, a very liberal "moderate," happily signed this increased spending into law.

The misplaced morality of public officials

In Wichita some public officials, particularly mayor Carlos Mayans, are seeking to eliminate adult businesses and stores selling pornography. This focus on private morality lies in sharp contrast with government's large-scale acts of public immorality.

Privatization is good for Century II and Wichita

Opponents of privatization of Century II, including the website www.savecenturyii.org, seem to think that the operating procedure of a profit-making business is to place so many restrictions on the use of their product, and to raise the price so high, that no one uses it anymore. The reality is quite the opposite. For a business to make a profit and survive, it must provide a product or service that people want to pay for, and provide it with costs less than its price. What could be wrong with that?

Who lost in the school finance bill?

Today (July 20, 2005) Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed the school finance bill. This bill gives Kansas public schools a lot more money to spend this school year.

Untold and Under Reported Stories From the Kansas Special Session

KANSAS TAXPAYERS NETWORK
P.O. Box 20050
Wichita, KS 67208
316-684-0082 FAX 316-684-7527
www.kansastaxpayers.com

July 19, 2005

Untold and Under Reported Stories From the Kansas Special Session
By Karl Peterjohn

The Kansas legislature abjectly surrendered their fiscal powers to the demands of the Kansas Supreme Court at the end of their special session in July. This victory for this liberal activist court and Governor Sebelius has generated a lot of news articles and positive editorial commentary for all of them in the Kansas press. Sadly, a significant part of the story behind this constitutional and spending battle has either been totally ignored or under reported. Here are some important pieces of information that should not be overlooked in the wake of these transformational changes in Kansas government.

First, let's begin with the basics. Kansas' General Fund will now officially top $5 billion for the first time. This is an important milestone when you consider that the state had its first $1 billion budget only 25 years ago in 1980. This spending growth is more than three times faster than Kansans' wages and is over $1,850 for every Kansan each year.

The wrong canon; the wrong Allegrucci

In summary, we have a Kansas Supreme Court Justice who has committed an ethical violation. The Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications didn't agree, and didn't consider an applicable canon when making its ruling. The press and some Kansas politicians fail to understand the importance of this matter. Instead of our state using this situation as an opportunity to reinforce the importance of ethics through a careful review and discussion of "impropriety" and the "appearance of impropriety," the wrong person has resigned and the issue appears to have been resolved. A scapegoat isn't what Kansas needs to increase confidence in our government. We need a press that sees the issue as vital and a group of representatives that realize confidence is their ticket not only to reelection, but to respect.

Let profits save (or sink) Exploration Place

Government leaders and newspaper editorial writers tell us that we cannot afford to lose such a wonderful place. But if it's so wonderful, why won't its customers pay what it really costs?

Report from Topeka, July 3, 2005

Thanks again for this report from Karl Peterjohn, Executive Director Kansas Taxpayers Network


It was a hard, long slog for the 11 days of the Kansas legislative session that began June 22. Using the phrase, "hard, long slog," is one that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had used in describing the war in Iraq.

The hard, long slog of the Kansas constitutional crisis continues with a break for legislators until Wednesday July 6. By then, the final FY 2005 revenue figures should be in.

Yet there is a phrase from the Vietnam war that is quite descriptive for the situation in Kansas.

"We had to destroy the village to save it."

This phrase has been attributed to various sources and most seem to (dis)credit it to left-wing flak Peter Arnett who was last seen generating excuses for Saddam Hussein's regime. Yet that phrase accurately describes what the Kansas Supreme Court's latest edict: "We have to destroy public schools in order to save it."

The court's July 2 edict threatens the closure of the state's public schools unless its spending mandate is met. This edict represented a judicial hissy fit because the divided Kansas legislature did not meet the court's July 1 date for increasing spending. The court issued an unusual Saturday afternoon ruling while the legislature continued to meet.

Report from Topeka, July 2, 2005

Thanks again for this report from Karl Peterjohn, Executive Director Kansas Taxpayers Network


The Kansas constitutional crisis expanded Saturday afternoon as the Kansas Supreme Court issued their latest school finance edict that threatened to shut down the public schools in this state because the legislature is not behaving properly under the court's instructions.

This is a sad day for the people of Kansas and their elected representatives when the appointed officials on this court, including apparently (the order was only signed by the chief justice and no other members of the court) two justices who have conflicts of interest in this case, continue to their assault on representative government and the separation of powers in this state. Kansas is truly in a constitutional crisis that is unique in this state's history.

What makes this situation fascinating is the continuing legislative special session. The legislature is deadlocked. At the moment there aren't 63 house members who are willing to surrender their fiscal authority to the court so the school finance bills and test votes have failed there. The most recent failure was a 63-to-59 procedural vote conducted in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Report from Topeka, July 1, 2005

Thank you again, Karl Peterjohn of the Kansas Taxpayers Network, for your insights into the Kansas Legislature's special session.


The Kansas house begins their 10:30 AM session with a constitutional amendment to reassert their fiscal powers in a key vote for this special session. Last Sunday a similar amendment failed getting only 73 of the 84 (2/3) votes needed to be submitted to voters.

Yesterday's house vote on school finance tied the $140 million in additional funding to the passage of an amendment in the constitutional battle between the court and the other two branches of Kansas government. Yesterday, the governor declined to state her position on the constitutional amendment proposals but many legislators believe that she is holding house democrats away from any amendment.

The vote last Sunday was critical since the senate had already passed this amendment and house approval would have allowed Kansas voters to have a voice in this crisis. Kansas voters continue to be largely disenfranchised in this process.

What has been missing from the school finance debate is perspective. Sadly, the figures tossed about by the various sides do not reflect numbers that most Kansans can easily relate to understanding. Should government school spending be raised by $161 million or $86 million?

Americans for Prosperity Statement on the Current Special Session

Americans for Prosperity Statement on the Current Special Session
June 29, 2005

"Americans for Prosperity -- Kansas is pleased that both legislative leaders and Governor Sebelius have ruled out tax increases on Kansas families and businesses as a way to meet the recent Supreme Court ruling.

The tax burden on Kansans is already too high and combined with the private sector job losses it is clear that a tax increase would be not in the long term interests of our state. After the misguided tax increase effort of 2004 and the initial call in some quarters this year for a tax increase it is positive to see that legislative leaders and Governor Sebelius and legislative leaders have realized the need to set a new course.

We want to thank the literally thousands of Kansas citizens from across our state and from all walks of life who have called, written and met with their elected leaders to demand more efficient government, relief from higher taxes and a return to the entrepreneurial spirit that has made Kansas so great. These grassroots activists -- many of whom are AFP-Kansas members -- are helping bring a new political culture to our state.

As our elected leaders decide how to respond to the Supreme Court's decision requiring hundreds-of-millions of dollars in new education spending AFP-Kansas encourages them to consider ways to improve education results with forward-looking reforms. Like the vast majority of Kansans, we have supported needed funds for education. As a massive new infusion of tax dollars for education is considered, now is the time to make sure that Kansas' children are receiving the full benefits of this money. That means actively looking for ways to get more dollars directly into classrooms instead of seeing them wasted on bureaucracy, giving parents greater input into their children's education, and making sure that every child is given the very best opportunity to achieve the American Dream."

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