Tag: KansasOpenGov

Discussion of open government in Wichita and Kansas
Open records

Discussion of open government in Wichita and Kansas

Perspectives may differ, but the point is the same -- more government transparency leads to more citizen engagement and better outcomes in communities, states, and nations. In this podcast, Kansas Policy Institute Vice President James Franko discusses government transparency with Seth Etter and Bob Weeks. Etter is the organizer of Open Wichita, an initiative to bring the benefits of open data and civic hacking to Wichita. Weeks blogs at Voice for Liberty in Wichita where he advocates for government transparency and accountability and uses open records requests to access, analyze and publish state and local government data. KPI maintains KansasOpenGov.org, an online data portal for state and local government data. Listen below, or click here for this and other Kansas Policy Institute ...
Kansas property tax data, the interactive visualization
Kansas state government

Kansas property tax data, the interactive visualization

(Note: Based on feedback from readers, I've made a change in the way the change in tax collections is reported. Instead of showing 179 percent, I now show 79 percent. This expresses the value as a percentage change rather than a change in index value from 100. The meaning of the data is the same, but now it is expressed in a manner that is easier to understand and consistent with other figures in this visualization.) Here is an interactive visualization that holds property tax data for Kansas counties from 1997 to 2013. There are several charts, including line charts of trends and maps of data and changes in data. On the line charts, click on any single county or more to highlight. (Use Ctrl+click to add counties.) Click here to open the visualization in a new window. Data is f...
Kansas state government

Bill would end taxpayer-funded lobbying in Kansas

A bill has been introduced in the Kansas Senate that would end or limit taxpayer-funded lobbying. The heart of this bill, SB 109, is "No public funds may be used directly or indirectly for lobbying. No public funds may be used to pay membership dues to an association that is engaged in lobbying the state. Public funds shall not be used for the purpose of employing or contracting for the service of any person whose duty and responsibility includes lobbying." Taxpayer-funding lobbying is one of the worst excesses of government. Commenting on the revelation that TARP bailout funds were spent on lobbying, David Boaz wrote: It’s bad enough to have our tax money taken and given to banks whose mistakes should have caused them to fail. It’s adding insult to injury when they use our m...
Wichita and Kansas schools

More Kansas spending data online

Kansas Policy Institute has added more data to KansasOpenGov, its government transparency portal. The newest data is from Kansas school districts, according to KPI's press release. KPI highlighted some noteworthy expenses, such as $7,148.53 on retirement clocks by the Andover school district, $232,894.00 in early retirement incentives by the Haysville school district, $24,755.47 at a Holiday Inn in San Clemente by the Topeka school district, and $2,616.60 to a Hyatt Hotel in Boston by the Coffeyville school district. The data at KansasOpenGov is particularly welcome as it can be downloaded as csv or Excel files, which means it can be analyzed, sorted, printed, and archived in various ways. Some governmental agencies provide this data only in pdf files, which are difficult to conv...
Wichita and Kansas schools

Kansas schools’ unspent funds on the rise — again

Following is a press release from Kansas Policy Institute. It is important that citizens understand the issue of the unspent fund balances. It's also important that they are aware of the refusal of school districts and school spending advocates to deal forthrightly with the public on this issue. It provides insight into the nature of our public schools, and why reform is so difficult. In July Dave Trabert, President of KPI, appeared before the Wichita school board to discuss these fund balances. For information on that appearance, see Wichita school district discusses unspent fund balances. For more articles on the fund balances, click on Kansas school fund balances. Kansas Schools Start The New Year With Even More In The Bank -- New Authority To Spend Now Exists Operating Carryover C...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday May 6, 2011

Wichita downtown sites draw little interest. Wichita Business Journal: "Interest from developers in eight city-owned “catalyst” sites in downtown Wichita was minimal -- unexpectedly so. 'I was a little bit surprised how light the response was,' says Scott Knebel, downtown revitalization manager for the city of Wichita." With the city soliciting informal proposals for eight sites, only two proposals were received. KPERS. It appears that the Kansas Legislature will pass a pension "reform" bill that does not include a shift to a defined-contribution plan for new employees. Instead, the tough decisions that need to be made about the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System have been placed in the hands of a study committee. More information about the seriousness of the KPERS problem is at ...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday February 9, 2011

ACLU leader to speak in Wichita. On Friday (February 11) the speaker at the meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club will be Doug Bonney, who is Chief Council and Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri. His topic will be "150 Years of Kansas Liberty." This speaking invitation has caused a bit of controversy, with some Pachyderm Club members -- and non-members -- criticizing the selection of a speaker whose group is associated with liberal political causes. But the invitation is in line with the club's mission of political education, as stated on the national Pachyderm website: "To promote practical political education and the dissemination of information on our political system." Previous speakers who don't fit the club's Republican Party affinity...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday January 6, 2011

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

Kansas school funds on the rise

Kansas schools, while presenting a gloomy financial outlook, have failed to spend all the funds they've been given. Evidence of this can be found in figures provided by the Kansas State Department of Education as made available at KansasOpenGov.org. Kansas school carryover fund balances The chart illustrates rising fund balances carried over to the next year. It's money that wasn't spent. Note that for the schools that are part of the Schools for Fair Funding group that is suing the state for more money: As a group, their carryover fund balances have increased. The carryover fund balances have been increasing, and rapidly, too. From 2009 to 2010, for all school districts in Kansas, carryover funds increased from $699,150,812 to $774,648,615. That's an increase of 9.7 percent. ...
Kansas state government

KansasOpenGov.org provides state data to citizens

KansasOpenGov.org provides an easy-to-access repository of data about Kansas state and local governments, giving citizens the data they need to hold officials accountable. KansasOpenGov.org is a project of the Kansas Policy Institute. This week I spoke to KPI President Dave Trabert and received a demonstration of the website and some ways it can be used. On its opening page, KansasOpenGov.org displays a map of Kansas, showing the county boundaries. As you roll the pointer over each county, data about taxes and population appears. Clicking on a county displays a table of tax and population data for the last 12 years. Many subject areas of KansasOpenGov.org allow you to search the database in your own way, but also provide pre-defined reports and charts that can be accessed with on...
Wichita and Kansas schools

Kansas schools cut, yet fail to spend

According to an Associated Press article as printed in the Wichita Eagle, Kansas schools cut 816 certified staff this year, including 653 teachers. The article cites school spending advocates who warn that without additional revenue for schools, further cuts -- even school closings -- may happen. But in spite of this dreary picture, Kansas schools have failed to spend all the funds at their disposal. Kansas school carryover funds. Click for a larger view. According to figures supplied by the Kansas State Department of Education as presented at KansasOpenGov.org, carryover cash balances have increased at the same time schools have laid off teachers and threatened to cut programs and close schools. From 2009 to 2010, for all school districts in Kansas, carryover funds increased...
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