Year in Review: 2018

Here are highlights from Voice for Liberty for 2018. Was it a good year for the principles of individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas?

Also, don’t miss these notable episodes of WichitaLiberty.TV in 2018:

January

In Wichita, three Community Improvement Districts to be considered. In Community Improvement Districts (CID), merchants charge additional sales tax for the benefit of the property owners, instead of the general public. Wichita may have an additional three, contributing to the problem of CID sprawl.

Dale Dennis, sage of Kansas school finance?. Is the state’s leading expert on school funding truly knowledgeable, or is he untrustworthy?

February

Unemployment in Kansas. New Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer proudly cites the low Kansas unemployment rate, but there is more to the story.

Greater Wichita Partnership asks for help. Wichita’s economic development agency asks for assistance in developing its focus and strategies.

Metro Monitor evaluates the Wichita economy. Metro Monitor from Brookings Institution ranks metropolitan areas on economic performance. How does Wichita fare?

March

What Was Really the Matter with the Kansas Tax Plan. A book by Dave Trabert and Danedri Herbert of Kansas Policy Institute explains the recent history of taxes and the Kansas economy.

Growing the Wichita economy. Wichita leaders are proud of our region’s economic growth. Here are the numbers.

Property under attack in Kansas. Local governments in Kansas are again seeking expanded power to seize property.

Kansas government data may not be available. There is a movement to increase the transparency of government in Kansas, but there’s much to be done, starting with attitudes.

Mayor Longwell’s pep talk. A column written by Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell ignores the reality of Wichita’s economy.

Sedgwick County’s David Dennis on economic development. Following the Wichita Mayor, the Chair of the Sedgwick County Commission speaks on economic development.

Employment in the states. An interactive visualization of the civilian labor force, employment, and unemployment, for each state.

Employment in metropolitan areas. An interactive visualization of labor force, employment, and unemployment rate for all metropolitan areas in the United States.

Wichita city council public agenda needs reform. Recent use of the Wichita City Council public agenda has highlighted the need for reform.

Kansas personal income. Personal income in Kansas rose in 2017 at a rate one-third that of the nation.

Naftzger Park private use plans unsettled. An important detail regarding Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita is unsettled, and Wichitans have reason to be wary.

Kansas and Iowa schools. Should Kansas schools aspire to be more like Iowa schools?

April

Kansas highways set to crumble, foresees former budget director. Duane Goossen, former high Kansas government official, says the state’s highways are in trouble. What is his evidence?

In Wichita, spending semi-secret. The Wichita City Council authorized the spending of a lot of money without discussion.

Wichita property tax rate: Down. The City of Wichita property tax mill levy declined for the second year in a row.

Project Wichita right to look ahead at city’s future. We can understand self-serving politicians and bureaucrats. It’s what they do. But a city’s newspaper editorial board ought to be concerned with the truth.

NAEP 2017 for Kansas, first look. A look at National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores for Kansas and the nation, grade 4 reading.

Project Wichita, remember Visioneering Wichita. As Project Wichita gets ready to gather information and set goals, let’s be aware that we’ve done this before, and not long ago.

Intrust Bank Arena loss for 2017 is $4,222,182. As in years past, a truthful accounting of the finances of Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita shows a large loss.

NAEP results for 2017 available in interactive visualizations. When properly considered, Kansas often underperforms the nation in the most recent assessment of “The Nation’s Report Card.”

Business patterns in Kansas counties. Census data shows that some counties in Kansas are growing faster than others.

Effect of NCAA basketball tournament on Wichita hotel tax revenues. Hotel tax collections provide an indication of the economic impact of hosting a major basketball tournament.

State government tax collections. An interactive visualization of tax collections by state governments.

Wichita tourism fee budget. The Wichita City Council will consider a budget for the city’s tourism fee paid by hotel guests.

May

Kansas GDP falls. For 2017, the Kansas economy shrank, and just two states performed worse.

The overcriminalization in the charges against Michael O’Donnell. The indictment against Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell smells of overcriminalization.

State highways. Kansas has a lot of highway miles compared to its population. Interactive visualization included.

Wichita metropolitan area population in context. The growth of population in Wichita compared to other areas.

Lawrence has it. Wichita doesn’t. Despite promises, Wichita fails to inform citizens on important activities of its government.

State and local government employee and payroll. Considering all government employees in proportion to population, Kansas has many compared to other states, and especially so in education.

Personal income in Kansas and Wichita. Personal income in Wichita and Kansas has declined.

Wichita in Best Cities for Jobs 2018. Wichita continues to decline in economic vitality, compared to other areas.

Kansas school standards remain high. Kansas school assessment standards remain at a high level, compared to other states. This is a welcome change from the past.

Downtown Wichita business trends. There has been much public and private investment in Downtown Wichita. What has been the trend in business activity during this time?

Wichita property tax still high on commercial property. An ongoing study reports that property taxes on commercial and industrial property in Wichita are high. In particular, taxes on commercial property in Wichita are among the highest in the nation.

June

Sedgwick County jobs. Sedgwick County had fewer jobs in 2017 than in 2016.

Kansas teachers union compliance instructions released. If you’re running for office in Kansas and want the support of the teachers union, here are questions you’ll need to answer their way.

Airport traffic statistics, 2017. Airport traffic data presented in an interactive visualization, updated through 2017.

Wichita and Midwest income. A look at income in Wichita compared to other Midwest cities.

Wichita jobs up. Wichita employment trends are positive for three consecutive months.

July

Kansas tax collections. If Kansas government doesn’t have enough money to meet spending requests, it’s not for the lack of collecting taxes.

Project Wichita survey. The Project Wichita survey is about to end. Will it have collected useful data?

Wichita business press needs to step up. If a newspaper is going to write a news story, it might as well take a moment to copy and paste information from a city council agenda packet. Especially when what is missing from the story is perhaps the most important information.

Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC mailing. In a campaign for Sedgwick County Commission, the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC whips up a lie in order to criticize a candidate.

An endorsement from the Wichita Chamber of Commerce. When the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee endorses a candidate, consider what that means.

The Wichita Mayor on employment. On a televised call-in show, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell is proud of the performance of the city in growing jobs.

August

Taxers prefer Hugh Nicks for Sedgwick County Commission. Those who supported higher sales taxes in Wichita also support one Sedgwick County Commission District 4 Republican candidate exclusively.

Ranked-choice voting in Kansas. A look at ranked-choice voting and how it might have worked in the Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary election in August 2018.

Wichita school spending, according to the Wichita Eagle. A recent editorial by the largest newspaper in Kansas misinforms its readers.

Wichita Eagle argues for higher taxes. The Wichita Eagle editorial board wants higher taxes. Relying on its data and arguments will lead citizens to misinformed and uninformed opinions.

Business improvement district proposed in Wichita. The Douglas Design District proposes to transform from a voluntary business organization to a tax-funded branch of government (but doesn’t say so).

Wichita Eagle calls for a responsible plan for higher taxes. A Wichita Eagle editorial argues for higher property taxes to help the city grow.

Wichita being sued, alleging improper handling of bond repayment savings. A lawsuit claims that when the City of Wichita refinanced its special assessment bonds, it should have passed on the savings to the affected taxpayers, and it did not do that.

September

Local government employment in Kansas. Kansas has nearly the highest number of local government employees per resident, compared to other states.

Wichita checkbook updated. Wichita spending data presented as a summary, and as a list.

Wichita, not that different. We have a lot of neat stuff in Wichita. Other cities do, too.

Kansas state and local taxes. Among nearby states, Kansas collects a lot of taxes, on a per-resident basis.

Wichita Wingnuts settlement: There are questions. It may be very expensive for the City of Wichita to terminate its agreement with the Wichita Wingnuts baseball club, and there are questions.

More TIF spending in Wichita. The Wichita City Council will consider approval of a redevelopment plan in a tax increment financing (TIF) district.

State government employees in Kansas. Kansas has more state government employees per resident than most states, and the trend is rising.

The use of sales tax proceeds in Wichita. Must the City of Wichita spend its share of Sedgwick County sales tax proceeds in a specific way?

Wichita economy shrinks, and a revision. The Wichita economy shrank in 2017, but revised statistics show growth in 2016.

GDP by metropolitan area and component. An interactive visualization of gross domestic product by metropolitan area and industry.

Kansas agriculture and the economy. What is the importance of agriculture to the Kansas economy?

October

Kansas school spending, through 2018. Charts of Kansas school spending presented in different forms.

Kansas highway spending. A look at actual spending on Kansas highways, apart from transfers.

Kansas highway pavement conditions. What is the condition of Kansas highways?

Pete Meitzner for Sedgwick County?. In normal times, Republicans may be reluctant to vote for a Democrat for the Sedgwick County Commission. But these are not normal times, and a vote for Pete Meitzner sends a message that we just don’t care about our economy.

November

Kansas GDP growth spurt. In the second quarter of 2018, the Kansas economy grew at the annual rate of 4.7 percent, the seventh-best rate in the nation.

Sedgwick County Manager epitomizes duty, honor, country. As a Sedgwick County citizen and taxpayer, I have been distressed to see news reports about the scandals, FBI and other legal investigations, that involve this county commission. By Karl Peterjohn.

Kansas school salaries. An interactive visualization of Kansas school salaries by district and category.

Personal income in Wichita rises, but slowly. For 2017, personal income in Wichita rose, but slower than the national rate.

Kansas tax receipts. 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.

December

Sedgwick County income and poverty. Census data show Sedgwick County continuing to fall behind the nation in two key measures.

It’s not the bonds, it’s the taxes. A Wichita Eagle headline reads “Wichita aircraft supplier plans 45 new jobs with $7.5 million bond request,” but important information is buried and incomplete.

Efficiencies in Sedgwick County government. A document that hasn’t been made public details savings achieved in Sedgwick County over a recent period of nearly three years.

Sedgwick County tax exemptions. Unlike the City of Wichita, Sedgwick County has kept track of its tax exemptions.

Starlite loan isn’t needed. The Wichita City Council seems poised to enter an unnecessarily complicated transaction.

Kansas tax credit scholarship program. An op-ed in the Wichita Eagle regarding school choice prompts uninformed and misinformed comments.

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