From the Wichita Pachyderm Club, a legislative wrap up featuring Representative Brenda Landwehr and Senator Ty Masterson. This was recorded May 31, 2019.
The City of Wichita says it values open and transparent government. But the city’s record in providing information and records to citizens is poor, and there hasn’t been much improvement.
Mayor Jeff Longwell penned a column in which he said, “First off, we want City Hall to be open and transparent to everyone in the community.” And the mayor’s biography on the city’s website says, “Mayor Longwell has championed many issues related to improving the community including government accountability, accessibility and transparency …”
But the reality is different. It shouldn’t be. Nearly four years ago the city expanded its staff by hiring a Strategic Communications Director. When the city announced the new position, it said: “The Strategic Communications Director is the City’s top communications position, charged with developing, managing, and evaluating innovative, strategic and proactive public communications plans that support the City’s mission, vision and goals.”
But there has been little, perhaps no, improvement in the data and information made available to citizens. The Wichita Eagle has editorialized on the lack of sharing regarding the details surrounding the new baseball team. 3
While this is important and a blatant example, there are many things the city could do to improve transparency. Some are very simple.
For example, it is very common for governmental agencies post their checkbooks on their websites. Sedgwick County does, as does the Wichita school district. But not the City of Wichita.
Until a few years ago, Wichita could supply data of only limited utility. What was supplied to me was data in pdf form, and as images, not text. It would be difficult and beyond the capability of most citizens to translate the data to a useful format. Even if someone translated the reports to computer-readable format, I don’t think it would be very useful. This was a serious defect in the city’s transparency efforts.
Now, if you ask the city for this data, you’ll receive data in an Excel spreadsheet. This is an improvement. But: You may be asked to pay for this data. The city says that someday it will make check register data available, but it has been promising that for many years. See Wichita check register for the data and details on the request.
Another example: For several years, the Kansas city of Lawrence has published an economic development report letting citizens know about the activities of the city in this area. The most recent edition may be viewed here.
The Lawrence report contains enough detail and length that an executive summary is provided. This report is the type of information that cities should be providing, but the City of Wichita does not do this.
It’s not like the City of Wichita does not realize the desirability of providing citizens with information. In fact, Wichitans have been teased with the promise of more information in order to induce them to vote for higher taxes. During the campaign for the one cent per dollar Wichita city sales tax in 2014, a city document promised this information regarding economic development spending if the tax passed: “The process will be transparent, with reports posted online outlining expenditures and expected outcomes.” (This is what Lawrence has been doing for several years.)
The city should implement this reporting even though the sales tax did not pass. If it’s good for citizens to have this type of information if the sales tax had passed, it’s good for them to know in any circumstance, because the city (and other overlapping governmental jurisdictions) still spends a lot on economic development.
Why is this information not available? Is the communications staff overwhelmed, with no time to provide this type of information?
During the sales tax campaign Wichita city staff had time to prepare news releases with titles like “City to Compete in Chili Cook-off” and “Jerry Seinfeld Returns to Century II.” Now the city produces headlines like “Wichita Transit to Receive Good Apple Award.”
But if you want to know how the city spends economic development dollars, you won’t find that.
There are other things:
- It would be easy to improve the availability and utility of the city’s legal notices.
- When the city supplies doeuments in electronic form, also post them online.
- The city could require its tax-funded partners to disclose how they spend taxpayer money.
- The city could stop creating taxpayer-funded entities to avoid open records laws.
- Hold social media town halls even if the city doesn’t like the questions. See A Wichita social media town hall.
Most of all, the city simply needs to change its attitude. Here’s an example.
Citizen watchdogs need access to records and data. The City of Wichita, however, has created several not-for-profit organizations that are controlled by the city and largely funded by tax money. The three I am concerned with are the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, Visit Wichita (the former Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau), and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, now the Greater Wichita Partnership. Each of these agencies refuses to comply with the Kansas Open Records Act, using the reasoning that they are not “public agencies” as defined in the Kansas law that’s designed to provide citizen access to records.
The city backs this interpretation. When legislation was introduced to bring these agencies under the umbrella of the Kansas Open Records Act, cities — including Wichita — protested vigorously, and the legislation went nowhere.
Recently the City of Wichita added a new tax to hotel bills that may generate $3 million per year for the convention and visitors bureau to spend. Unless the city changes its attitude towards citizens’ right to know, this money will be spent in secret.
This attitude has been the policy of the city for a long time. In 2008, Randy Brown, at one time the editorial page editor at the Wichita Eagle wrote this:
I’m fairly well acquainted with Bob Weeks, our extraconservative government watchdog. It’s fair to say that I agree with Weeks no more than one time in every 20 issues. But that one time is crucial to our democracy.
Weeks is dead-on target when he says that conducting the public’s business in secret causes citizens to lose respect for government officials and corrupts the process of democracy (“TIF public hearing was bait and switch,” Dec. 5 Opinion). And that’s what happened when significant 11th-hour changes to the already controversial and questionable tax-increment financing plan for the downtown arena neighborhood were sneaked onto the Wichita City Council’s Tuesday agenda, essentially under cover of Monday evening’s darkness.
This may not have been a technical violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act, but it was an aggravated assault on its spirit. Among other transgressions, we had a mockery of the public hearing process rather than an open and transparent discussion of a contentious public issue.
The Wichita officials involved should publicly apologize, and the issue should be reopened. And this time, the public should be properly notified.
Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government
A few years later, Brown noticed the attitude had not improved. Although he did not mention him by name, Brown addressed a concern expressed by Wichita City Council Member Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita). He accurately summarized Meitzner’s revealed attitude towards government transparency and open records as “democracy is just too much trouble to deal with.”
I don’t think things have improved.
- For example, in his State of the City address for 2011, Brewer listed as an important goal for the city this: “And we must provide transparency in all that we do.” See https://drive.google.com/open?id=1xgx96BEXALDEgLBRcQdz2Kg0_W5x3e2J. ↩
- “The City Council has stressed the importance of transparency for this organization,” City Manager Robert Layton said. “We’re honored to receive a Sunny Award and we will continue to empower and engage citizens by providing information necessary to keep them informed on the actions their government is taking on their behalf.” Wichita City New Release. Available at https://www.wichita.gov/News/Pages/2013-03-18b.aspx. ↩
- Wichita Eagle Editorial Board. *Fight for transparency during ‘Sunshine Week’ and year-round.” Available at https://www.kansas.com/article227430494.html. ↩
Kansas law requires publication of certain notices in newspapers, but cities like Wichita could also make them available in other ways that are easier to use.
Do you read the legal publications in your local newspaper? Often they are lengthy. Many pertain to just one person or company. All are supplied using ink expressed as fine print on dead trees.
But some legal publications are important and of interest to the general public.
Kansas law requires that many legal notices must be printed in a newspaper. That law needs to be changed. As you might imagine, newspapers resist this reform, as it might mean a loss of revenue for them. (That’s right. Newspapers don’t print these notices as a public service.)
Although the law requires publishing notices in a newspaper, it doesn’t prohibit publishing them in electronic form. If governmental agencies would make their legal publications available in ways other than the newspaper, citizens would be better served.
The City of Wichita does some posting of legal notices on its website. Under the City Clerk section, there is a page titled “Legal Notices” that holds notices of bidding opportunities. This is good, but the notices that are important to most people are not on the city’s website.
Posting all city legal notices on the city’s website would be easy to do. It would be quite inexpensive, as the copy is already in electronic form. The notices would become searchable through Google and other methods. Interested parties could capture and store notices this material for their own use. Once people get used to this method of publication, it will make it easier to get state law changed.
Government transparency would increase.
So why doesn’t the City of Wichita post its legal notices on its website?
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Martin Hawver, dean of the Kansas Statehouse press corps. This was recorded January 4, 2019.
Martin Hawver is the editor and publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report, the respected, non-partisan news service that reports on Kansas government and politics.
He also is the dean of the Kansas Statehouse press corps, having covered the beat (36 years) longer than any current Statehouse reporter — first for 17 years as a Statehouse reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal and since 1993 for Hawver’s Capitol Report. He is the primary reporter/writer for the news service. He also writes a column syndicated to Kansas newspapers, is interviewed about Kansas government and politics on TV and radio shows, and is a speaker for seminars and conventions.
Hawver has covered 36 Kansas legislative sessions and 14 national Republican and Democratic political conventions, plus countless statewide and local political conventions.
Hawver writes a weekly column called “At The Rail” that is syndicated to Kansas newspapers. He also turns out to be an entertaining, informative, and pretty well-known public speaker, and if your Kansas-based group is interested in political humor, government humor, or even just understanding the landscape in the ever-more-confusing world of politics, you might want to consider having Martin Hawver speak. (Source: Hawver’s Capitol Report)
From the office of Kansas House of Representatives Speaker Ron Ryckman, here are committee assignments for the 2019 session of the Kansas Legislature. The session starts Monday January 14, 2019.
9:00 AM Committees
Appropriations (112-N): Troy Waymaster, Chair; Kyle Hoffman, Vice Chair; Kathy Wolfe Moore, Ranking Minority; John Alcala; Barbara Ballard; Tom Burroughs; Sydney Carlin; Will Carpenter; J.R. Claeys; Susan Concannon; Willie Dove; Shannon Francis; Henry Helgerson; Steven Johnson; Brenda Landwehr; Stephen Owens; Brett Parker; Richard Proehl; Ken Rahjes; Brad Ralph; Bill Sutton; Sean Tarwater; and Kristey Williams.
Federal and State Affairs (346-S): John Barker, Chair; Francis Awerkamp, Vice Chair; Louis Ruiz, Ranking Minority; Tory Arnberger; Jesse Burris; Blake Carpenter; Stephanie Clayton; John Eplee; Renee Erickson; Broderick Henderson; Boog Highberger; Michael Houser; Susan Humphries; Trevor Jacobs; Jim Karleskint; Jan Kessinger; Les Mason; Nancy Lusk; John Resman; Eric Smith; Jerry Stogsdill; Adam Thomas; and Brandon Woodard.
Rural Revitalization (582-N): Don Hineman, Chair; Adam Smith, Vice Chair; Jason Probst, Ranking Minority; Dave Baker; Ken Collins; Owen Donohoe; Cheryl Helmer; Larry Hibbard; Ron Highland; Cindy Holscher; Tim Hodge; Eileen Horn; Russ Jennings; Monica Murnan; Bill Pannbacker; Jene Vickrey; and Paul Waggoner.
Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications (T/Th) (281-N): Joe Seiwert, Chair; Mark Schreiber, Vice Chair; Annie Kuether, Ranking Minority; Emil Bergquist; John Carmichael; Ken Corbet; Tom Cox; Leo Delperdang; Stan Frownfelter; Randy Garber; Jim Gartner; Nick Hoheisel; Marty Long; Cindy Neighbor; Mark Samsel; Jack Thimesch; and Kellie Warren.
Financial Institutions and Pensions (M/W) (281-N): Jim Kelly, Chair; Boyd Orr, Vice Chair; Gail Finney, Ranking Minority; David Benson; Doug Blex; Suzi Carlson; Tom Cox; Leo Delperdang; Brenda Dietrich; Stan Frownfelter; Megan Lynn; Leonard Mastroni; Bill Rhiley; John Toplikar; Barb Wasinger; Virgil Weigel; and Rui Xu.
Local Government (M/W) (218-N): Kent Thompson, Chair; Emil Bergquist, Vice Chair; Pam Curtis, Ranking Minority; Mike Amyx; Elizabeth Bishop; Michael Capps; Lonnie Clark; Charlotte Esau; Ron Howard; Greg Lewis; Marty Long; J.C. Moore; and Jarrod Ousley.
Veterans (T/Th) (218-N): Lonnie Clark, Chair; Ron Ellis, Vice Chair; Virgil Weigel, Ranking Minority; Chris Croft; Diana Dierks; Brenda Dietrich; David French; Ron Howard; Tom Phillips; Jeff Pittman; Susan Ruiz; Ponka-We Victors; and John Wheeler.
1:30 PM Committees
Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget (142-S): Willie Dove, Chair; Larry Hibbard, Vice Chair; Sydney Carlin, Ranking Minority; Lonnie Clark; Jim Gartner; Trevor Jacobs; Greg Lewis; Boyd Orr; and 58th House District Representative.
Children and Seniors (346-S): Susan Concannon, Chair; Susan Humphries, Vice Chair; Jarrod Ousley, Ranking Minority; Suzi Carlson; Diana Dierks; Charlotte Esau; Randy Garber; Leonard Mastroni; Nancy Lusk; Cindy Neighbor; Bill Rhiley; Susan Ruiz; and Paul Waggoner.
Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development (112-N): Sean Tarwater, Chair; Ken Corbet, Vice Chair; Stan Frownfelter, Ranking Minority; Tom Burroughs; Will Carpenter; Chris Croft; Pam Curtis; Ron Highland; Don Hineman; Kyle Hoffman; Jan Kessinger; Marty Long; Les Mason; Jason Probst; Brad Ralph; Louis Ruiz; and Kristey Williams.
Corrections/Juvenile Justice (152-S): Russ Jennings, Chair; Leo Delperdang, Vice Chair; Boog Highberger, Ranking Minority; John Carmichael; David French; Annie Kuether; Stephen Owens; Fred Patton; Bill Pannbacker; John Resman; Eric Smith; Virgil Weigel; and John Wheeler.
Education (218-N): Steve Huebert, Chair; Brenda Dietrich, Vice Chair; Jim Ward, Ranking Minority; David Benson; Stephanie Clayton; Renee Erickson; Cheryl Helmer; Steven Johnson; Jim Karleskint; Mark Samsel; Mark Schreiber; Adam Smith; Jerry Stogsdill; Adam Thomas; John Toplikar; Jene Vickrey; and Rui Xu
Health and Human Services (546-S): Brenda Landwehr, Chair; John Eplee, Vice Chair; Monica Murnan, Ranking Minority; Tory Arnberger; John Barker; Emil Bergquist; Elizabeth Bishop; Doug Blex; Ken Collins; Ron Ellis; Broderick Henderson; Cindy Holscher; Eileen Horn; Ron Howard; Jim Kelly; Megan Lynn; and Kellie Warren.
Higher Education Budget (281-N): Ken Rahjes, Chair; Tom Phillips, Vice Chair; Brandon Whipple, Ranking Minority; Jesse Burris; Blake Carpenter; J.C. Moore; Brett Parker; Barb Wasinger; and Brandon Woodard.
Transportation (582-N): Richard Proehl, Chair; Jack Thimesch, Vice Chair; Henry Helgerson, Ranking Minority; Francis Awerkamp; Dave Baker; Barbara Ballard; J.R. Claeys; Tom Cox; Shannon Francis; Nick Hoheisel; Michael Houser; KC Ohaebosim; Jeff Pittman; Joe Seiwert; Bill Sutton; Kent Thompson; and Ponka-We Victors.
3:30 PM Committees
Agriculture (582-N): Ron Highland, Chair; Eric Smith, Vice Chair; Sydney Carlin, Ranking Minority; Doug Blex; Larry Hibbard; Eileen Horn; Trevor Jacobs; Jim Karleskint; Greg Lewis; Boyd Orr; Bill Pannbacker; Jason Probst; Mark Schreiber; Joe Seiwert; Kent Thompson; Virgil Weigel; and Rui Xu.
General Government Budget (281-N): J.R. Claeys, Chair; Tory Arnberger, Vice Chair; Tom Burroughs, Ranking Minority; Mike Amyx; Leo Delperdang; David French; Cheryl Helmer; Broderick Henderson; and Marty Long.
Judiciary (346-S): Fred Patton, Chair; Brad Ralph, Vice Chair; John Carmichael, Ranking Minority; Emil Bergquist; Jesse Burris; Pam Curtis; Randy Garber; Boog Highberger; Nick Hoheisel;
Susan Humphries; Russ Jennings; Annie Kuether; KC Ohaebosim; Stephen Owens; Mark Samsel; Kellie Warren; and John Wheeler.
K-12 Education Budget (546-S): Kristey Williams, Chair; Kyle Hoffman, Vice Chair; Valdenia Winn, Ranking Minority; Brenda Dietrich; Renee Erickson; Cindy Holscher; Steve Huebert; Brenda Landwehr; Nancy Lusk; Adam Smith; Sean Tarwater; Adam Thomas; and Jim Ward.
Social Services Budget (144-S): Will Carpenter, Chair; Leonard Mastroni, Vice Chair; Barbara Ballard, Ranking Minority; Suzi Carlson; Owen Donohoe; Ron Howard; Megan Lynn; Monica Murnan; and Susan Ruiz.
Taxation (112-N): Steven Johnson, Chair; Les Mason, Vice Chair; Jim Gartner, Ranking Minority; John Alcala; Dave Baker; John Barker; Stephanie Clayton; Susan Concannon; Ken Corbet; Chris Croft; John Eplee; Henry Helgerson; Don Hineman; Jim Kelly; Tom Phillips; Richard Proehl; Ken Rahjes; Jerry Stogsdill; Jack Thimesch; John Toplikar; Barb Wasinger; Kathy Wolfe Moore; and 58th House District Representative.
Transportation and Public Safety Budget (142-S): Shannon Francis, Chair; John Resman, Vice Chair; Jeff Pittman, Ranking Minority; David Benson; Ron Ellis; Charlotte Esau; Michael Houser; Jan Kessinger; and Ponka-We Victors.
Elections (T/Th) (212B-N): Bill Sutton, Chair; Blake Carpenter, Vice Chair; Brett Parker, Ranking Minority; Frances Awerkamp; Lonnie Clark; Ken Collins; Willie Dove; Tim Hodge; J.C. Moore, Jarrod Ousley; Bill Rhiley; Paul Waggoner; and Brandon Whipple.
Insurance (M/W) (212B-N): Jene Vickrey, Chair; Tom Cox, Vice Chair; Cindy Neighbor, Ranking Minority; Francis Awerkamp; Elizabeth Bishop; Michael Capps; Blake Carpenter; Ken Collins; Diana Dierks; Willie Dove; Gail Finney; Stan Frownfelter; J.C. Moore; Bill Rhiley; Bill Sutton; Paul Waggoner; and Brandon Woodard.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Representative Leo Delperdang joins Bob Weeks to discuss the recent election and the upcoming session of the Kansas Legislature. View below or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 220, broadcast December 2, 2018.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Bob and Karl look at election results nationally, in Kansas, and in Sedgwick County. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 217, broadcast November 11, 2018.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Republican candidates for the Kansas House of Representatives. Appearing, in initial speaking order, were:
- Steven Kelly, 72nd District (map of district)
- Cheryl Helmer, 79th District (map)
- J.C. Moore, 93rd District (map)
- Susan Humphries, 99th District (map)
This was recorded on October 19, 2018.
A look at actual spending on Kansas highways, apart from transfers.
When we look at actual spending on Kansas roads and highways, we see something different from what is commonly portrayed. Kansas Department of Transportation publishes a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report that details spending in four categories. These figures represent actual spending on roads and highways, independent of transfers to or from the highway fund.
For fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30, 2018, spending on two categories (Maintenance and Modernization) rose slightly from the year before, while spending on the categories Preservation and Expansion and Enhancement fell.
For these four categories — which represent the major share of KDOT spending on roads — spending in fiscal 2018 totaled $528.234 million. That’s down 28 percent from $736.781 million the year before, and up from a low of $698.770 million in fiscal 2010.
Again, these are dollars actually spent on highway programs. A common characterization of the way Kansas government is funded is called “robbing the bank of KDOT.” To the extent that characterization is accurate, there is a separate line item titled “Distributions to other state funds” that holds these values. It appears in the nearby table. A chart shows sales tax distributions from the general fund to KDOT, and transfers from KDOT. The two values tack closely over history, and in 2018 were nearly identical values.
Many also criticize Kansas government for slashing highway spending, letting our roads crumble. While total spending on these four programs has been falling (after adjusting for inflation), the decline, until recent years, is minor compared to the hysterical claims of those with vested interests in more government, and especially highway, spending.
Kansas law specifies how much sales tax revenue is transferred to the highway fund. Here are recent rates of transfer and dates they became effective: 1
July 1, 2010: 11.427%
July 1, 2011: 11.26%
July 1, 2012: 11.233%
July 1, 2013: 17.073%
July 1, 2015: 16.226%
July 1, 2016 and thereafter: 16.154%
A nearby chart shows the dollar amounts transferred to the highway fund from sales tax revenue. In 2006 the transfer was $98.914 million, and by 2018 it had grown to $530.765 million.
- Kansas Statutes Annotated 79-3620. ↩
Charts of Kansas school spending presented in different forms.
Recently Kansas State Department of Education released spending figures for the 2018 school year, that is, the school year starting in 2017 and ending in 2018.
One of the most important charts shows state spending per-pupil, adjusted for inflation. It shows the total of state and local spending, which is useful because in 2015 the state made a change in the way revenue is allocated between state and local sources. It also shows base state aid per pupil, which is an important number as it is the starting point for the school funding formula.
Why is total state and local spending higher than base state aid? The answer is weightings. These are amounts that are added to the base to pay for things like at-risk children, English language learners, and other items. The value of weightings has grown over time, so as base state aid has generally fallen, total spending has generally risen.
A second chart shows the ratio of total state and local spending to base state aid.
This is not simply a technical matter. In discussions of school policy, sometimes only the base aid figure is used. As it has fallen, some formulate an argument that school spending has been cut. That is easily refuted by looking at total state and local spending.
Of note, base state aid was not used in school years 2016 and 2017, which explains the gap in some of the series.
I’ve gathered these charts and others and present them in a presentation. Use arrow keys to move through the charts. Click here to access.
A look at some of the large economic development programs in Wichita and Kansas.
Here’s video of a presentation I gave at the Wichita Pachyderm Club this week on economic development incentives. The video was produced by Paul Soutar of Graphic Lens. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
Following, articles that address some of the topics I presented:
- Industrial revenue bonds in Kansas: Industrial Revenue Bonds are a mechanism that Kansas cities and counties use to allow companies to avoid paying property and sales taxes.
- Wichita TIF projects: some background: Tax increment financing disrupts the usual flow of tax dollars, routing funds away from cash-strapped cities, counties, and schools back to the TIF-financed development. TIF creates distortions in the way cities develop, and researchers find that the use of TIF means lower economic growth.
- Community improvement districts in Kansas: In Kansas Community Improvement Districts, merchants charge additional sales tax for the benefit of the property owners, instead of the general public.
- STAR bonds in Kansas: The Kansas STAR bonds program provides a mechanism for spending by autopilot, without specific appropriation by the legislature.
- PEAK, or Promoting Employment Across Kansas: PEAK, a Kansas economic development incentive program, redirects employee income taxes back to the employing company.
- Historic preservation tax credits, or developer welfare: A Wichita developer seeks to have taxpayers fund a large portion of his development costs, using a wasteful government program of dubious value.
What is the importance of agriculture to the Kansas economy?
United States Representative Roger Marshall said: “My district is the largest ag-producing congressional district in the country, with 60 percent of the economy being ag related. Forty percent of the Kansas economy is ag related.” 1
The Kansas Hospital Association argues: “In Table 5, the total income impact of health care services resulted in an estimated $19.4 billion for the economy. Thus, health care is directly or closely related to about 11.6 percent of the state’s total income.” 2
The Kansas Department of Transportation produced a study that finds: “In 2017, $20.6 billion in annual economic benefit was supported by aviation and aviation-related activities in Kansas, supported nearly 91,300 jobs, and generated more than $4.4 billion in annual payroll.” 3 $20.6 billion is 14.9 percent of the $138.328 billion Kansas economy.
The nonalcoholic beverage industry says: “With a direct economic impact of $2.0 billion.” Then “Factoring in this retail impact further broadens the economic reach of the nonalcoholic beverage industry by an additional $1.7 billion beyond what our industry generates directly.” 4 The total of $3.7 billion is about 2.7 percent of the Kansas economy. That’s coming just from nonalcoholic beverages.
We can easily find other examples of industry groups emphasizing their importance to the Kansas economy. But these findings are almost always exaggerated, especially in the case of agriculture.
For example, the Kansas Department of Agriculture says “Using the most recent IMPLAN data available (2015) adjusted for 2017, 65 agriculture, food, and food processing sectors were analyzed to determine their overall contribution to the Kansas economy. These 65 sectors have a total direct output of approximately $47.9 billion and support 125,714 jobs in Kansas.” 5 The document says this is 31.6 percent of Kansas GDP.
Direct output is defined in the same document in this paragraph: “Direct, indirect, and induced effects sum together to estimate the total economic contribution in the state. Direct effects capture the contribution from agricultural and food products. Indirect effects capture the economic benefit from farms and agricultural businesses purchasing inputs from supporting industries within the state. Induced effects capture the benefits created when employees of farms, agricultural businesses, and the supporting industries spend their wages on goods and services within the state.”
Adding indirect and induced effects results in $67,461,102,358 ($67.5 billion) in economic contribution, which the Department of Agriculture says is 44.5 percent of Kansas economic output, also called gross domestic product (GDP).
It is true that agricultural workers spend money like anyone else. They spend on food, shelter, taxes, recreation, cars, clothing, and other things. Therefore, an agriculture industry support group might say “Farmers keep small town Kansas restaurants in business, providing jobs for restaurant workers.”
Then, a restaurant industry support group might say “By buying meats and produce locally, restaurants keep Kansas farmers in business.”
All this is true. But we need to be careful when counting contributions to the whole. Here, when farmers eat at restaurants, that is counted as induced effects of agriculture contributing to Kansas GDP. But, the restaurant industry counts the production and serving of these meals as its own direct output to Kansas GDP.
Similarly, when the restaurant buys food from a farmer, the purchase counts as indirect effects of the restaurant industry as they purchase inputs and contribute to Kansas GDP. The farmer, of course, considers that as his direct output, again contributing to Kansas GDP.
This economic activity is good and natural, and the more, the better. But we can’t count it twice when allocating GDP to industries.
Consider the industry category “Dog and cat food manufacturing,” said by the Department of Agriculture to employ 2,183.7 people in Kansas, producing $3,125,350,139 ($3.1 billion) in contribution to the Kansas GDP. That’s 2.2 percent of Kansas GDP. Should all the output of this industry be considered part of Kansas agriculture? The manufacturing industry counts this as part of its contribution to GDP. It’s true that the inputs to the manufacturing are agricultural products, but we don’t know if they are ag products that are produced in Kansas and should be counted as part of Kansas GDP.
The nearby table shows that for 2017, agriculture counted for 3.2 percent of the Kansas economy. For the period 1997 to 2017, it was 2.7 percent. There are many industry groups with greater output than agriculture.
How are the GDP numbers for agriculture inflated to 44.5 percent? IMPLAN, that’s how. It is an economic model used to estimate contributions of economic activity to the larger economy. 6
It’s true that when an industry produces economic activity, it spawns other economic activity. These are the indirect and induced effects that IMPLAN produces. But these numbers are hugely inflated. When considering all industries, economic activity is counted more than once.
When it suits their needs, industry groups, like other special interest groups, use IMPLAN to boost their importance. Consider manufacturing, which at 16.4 percent of GDP is the second-largest industry in Kansas. When manufacturing companies appeal to state or local government for subsidies, they use IMPLAN or related mechanisms to inflate their importance. Almost everyone does this. It’s standard procedure.
Except: When multiple industries the same indirect and induced economic activity, such analysis becomes meaningless. If we added up the IMPLAN-calculated value of each industry to the Kansas economy, we’d end up with a value several times larger than the actual value. This is what the Kansas Department of Agriculture has done. We expect this behavior from companies or local economic development agencies when they appeal for economic development incentives and other forms of special treatment. They need to inflate their importance to gullible government bureaucrats and elected officials. But government agencies should not do this.
On the other hand, what is the harm in overstating the importance of an industry? The harm is that policy decisions are made using false evidence.
- Quoted in the Wichita Eagle. Available at http://www.kansas.com/news/business/article125840694.html. ↩
- John Leatherman. The Importance of the Health Care Sector to the Kansas Economy. Available at http://kha-net.org/dataproductsandservices/stat/economicimpact/. ↩
- Kansas Department of Transportation. Kansas Aviation Economic Impact Study. Available at https://www.ksdot.org/Assets/wwwksdotorg/bureaus/divAviation/pdf/2016EISExecutiveSummary.pdf. ↩
- American Beverage Association. Available at https://www.ameribev.org/files/resources/kansas-2.pdf. ↩
- Kansas Department of Agriculture. Estimated Economic Impact of Agriculture, Food, and Food Processing Sectors. Available at https://agriculture.ks.gov/docs/default-source/ag-marketing/ag-contribution-2017.pdf. ↩
- University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. IMPLAN Methodology. Available at http://reic.uwcc.wisc.edu/implan/. ↩
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates. These are Republican candidates appearing on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot. This was recorded on August 24, 2018.
Candidates were, in order of initial appearance:
- Blake Carpenter, 81st District
- Emil Bergquist, 91st District
- Leo Delperdang, 94th District
- Ron Howard, 98th District
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Hosts Karl Peterjohn and Bob Weeks continue reporting on some of the results of the August 7, 2018 primary election in Kansas. View below, or click here to view on YouTube. Episode 206, broadcast August 19, 2018.
Since this episode was recorded, the Sedgwick County Commission District 4 Republican primary manual recount was completed. There were no discrepancies between the results reported after the canvass and the results from the recount. The result is Hugh Nicks 3,438 votes, and Richard Ranzau 3,513 votes.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Hosts Karl Peterjohn and Bob Weeks report on some of the results of the August 7, 2018 primary election in Kansas. View here, or click below to view on YouTube. Episode 205, broadcast August 11, 2018.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Candidates for Kansas House of Representatives districts 74, 75, and 80. This was recorded on August 3, 2018.
- Kansas House District 74: Stephen Owens and incumbent Don Schroeder (Did not attend)
- Kansas House District 75: Will Carpenter and incumbent Mary Martha Good (Did not attend)
- Kansas House District 80: Incumbent Anita Judd-Jenkins (Did not attend) and Bill Rhiley
Here are maps of the districts:
Recently Kansas Policy Institute, along with Americans for Prosperity and Kansas Chamber of Commerce, held a series of briefings for candidates for the Kansas Legislature. The presentations in Wichita were recorded, and are available as follows:
What Was Really the Matter with the Kansas Tax Plan. KPI President Dave Trabert spoke on the reality and myths of the state’s tax plan. Click here to view at YouTube.
Kansas K-12 Education Spending and Achievement. KPI President Dave Trabert spoke on K-12 education spending and achievement. Click here to view.
Medicaid Expansion. Melissa Fausz, a senior policy analyst with Americans for Prosperity, spoke about Medicaid expansion. Click here to view.
Kansas Chamber Legislative Update. Eric Stafford, vice president of government affairs for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, spoke on the legislative process in Kansas. Click here to view.
Property Taxes. KPI President Dave Trabert spoke on property taxes in Kansas. Click here to view.
Or, view them all. Click here.