Kathleen Sebelius

Happy Fiscal New Year, Kansas (not)

Happy Fiscal New Year, Kansas (not)

A Kansas public policy group celebrates tax increases. But it isn't enough, and more reform is required. Kansas Center for Economic Growth has promoted higher taxes in Kansas for many years, and this year it got its wish. Here are a few remarks based on its self-congratulatory article titled "Happy Fiscal New Year, Kansas." KCEG wrote: "Kansas is now better positioned to provide great schools" Wait a moment. I thought Kansas already has great schools. That's what the Kansas public school establishment tells us. And I think that the author made a mistake here. Instead of writing about "public schools,"…
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Which Kansas governor?

Which Kansas governor?

In Kansas, a governor is proud of savings and efficiencies. Can you guess which Kansas governor and administration did these things? Looked for future highway projects "where it seemed the amount of money set aside exceeded the need, or where the scope of individual projects had changed," and took credit for $278 million in savings. Took credit for saving $67 million by adjusting the inflation rates used in estimating future project costs. Took credit for $306 million in savings by spending reserve funds, deciding that money wasn't needed just "sitting in the bank." Refinanced bonds so that payments would be…
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Year in Review: 2016

Year in Review: 2016

Here are highlights from Voice for Liberty for 2016. Was it a good year for the principles of individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas? Also be sure to view the programs on WichitaLiberty.TV for guests like journalist, novelist, and blogger Bud Norman; Radio talk show host Joseph Ashby; David Bobb, President of Bill of Rights Institute; Heritage Foundation trade expert Bryan Riley; Radio talk show host Andy Hooser; Keen Umbehr; John Chisholm on entrepreneurship; James Rosebush, author of "True Reagan," Jonathan Williams of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); Gidget Southway, or Danedri Herbert;…
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Gary Sherrer and Kansas Policy Institute

Gary Sherrer and Kansas Policy Institute

A former Kansas government official criticizes Kansas Policy Institute. I wouldn't normally use a Facebook comment in a public way, but the comment was left in public, to a post on my Facebook profile. Plus, the writer is a former Kansas government official. He's Gary Sherrer, who has been Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of Commerce, and Chair of the Kansas Board of Regents. Sherrer had criticized the truthfulness of Kansas Policy Institute, claiming he "could write an essay" on his criticism of KPI. Upon my suggestion for him to do so, he offered two criticisms. First, Sherrer wrote this: "They count…
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Kansas government ‘hollowed-out’

Kansas government ‘hollowed-out’

Is Kansas government "hollowed-out" even though spending is rising? In the Wichita Eagle, Burdett Loomis writes: "In 2011, Gov. Sam Brownback and a far-right Kansas House of Representatives began to hollow out state government, all in the name of smaller, more efficient, more private administration."[1. Loomis, Burdett. Kansas is becoming a hollowed-out state. Wichita Eagle, July 9, 2016. Available at www.kansas.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article88555862.html.] Loomis doesn't define what he means by "hollow out" but the measure of the size of government is spending. Not taxation, but spending, because if government spends without taxing by the same amount, someone has to pay, eventually. Or,…
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Inspector General evaluates Obamacare website

Inspector General evaluates Obamacare website

The HHS Inspector General has released an evaluation of the Obamacare website HealthCare.gov, shedding light on the performance of former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services has released a report titled HealthCare.gov: Case Study of CMS Management of the Federal Marketplace. An excerpt from the executive summary holds the main points: What We Found The development of HealthCare.gov faced a high risk of failure, given the technical complexity required, the fixed deadline, and a high degree of uncertainty about mission, scope, and funding. Still, we found that HHS and…
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The Kansas revenue problem in perspective

The Kansas revenue problem in perspective

If we take the budgetary advice of a former Kansas state budget official, we need to be ready to accept the economic stagnation that accompanied his boss's tenure. Writing in his blog, former Kansas budget director Duane Goossen offers his advice for fixing the Kansas budget: "The state has a revenue problem that will not fix itself. Lawmakers have to face up to the fact that they must make revenue match expenditures. Unaffordable income tax cuts caused the problem. That’s the place to look for a correction." (Lawmakers Make It Clear: Kansas Has A Revenue Problem) Goossen has one thing…
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As lawmakers, Kansas judges should be selected democratically

As lawmakers, Kansas judges should be selected democratically

While many believe that judges should not "legislate from the bench," that is, make law themselves, the reality is that lawmaking is a judicial function. In a democracy, lawmakers should be elected under the principle of "one person, one vote." But Kansas, which uses the Missouri Plan for judicial selection to its highest court, violates this principle. A 2012 paper by Kansas University School of Law Professor Stephen J. Ware explains the problem with the judicial selection process in Kansas. The paper is titled Originalism, Balanced Legal Realism and Judicial Selection: A Case Study and may be downloaded at no…
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Kansas personal income grows

Kansas personal income grows

A recent spurt of growth of personal income in Kansas is welcome, considering the history of Kansas in this regard. Kansas personal income grew in the quarter ending in June, with the Wichita Business Journal reporting "Kansas ranked 14th among states for second-quarter personal income growth." The article also noted "According to data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal income grew by 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2014, faster than the national growth rate of 1.5 percent." Strong growth in personal income is good. But strong growth is not the norm for Kansas. The nearby…
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SEC orders Kansas to stop doing what it did under Sebelius and Parkinson

SEC orders Kansas to stop doing what it did under Sebelius and Parkinson

The Securities and Exchange Commission found that Kansas mislead bond investors. It ordered the state to implement reforms, which it has. According to a press release from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the State of Kansas "failed to disclose that the state’s pension system was significantly underfunded, and the unfunded pension liability created a repayment risk for investors in those bonds." This refers to a series of eight debt, or bond, issues in 2009 and 2010. Collectively they were worth $273 million. The SEC press release explains: According to the SEC’s order against Kansas, the series of bond offerings were…
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Women for Kansas voting guide should be read with caution

Women for Kansas voting guide should be read with caution

If voters are relying on a voter guide from Women for Kansas, they should consider the actual history of Kansas taxation and spending before voting. A political advocacy group known as Women for Kansas has produced a voting guide, listing the candidates that it prefers for Kansas House of Representatives. But by reading its "Primer on the Issues," we see that this group made its endorsements based on incorrect information. One claim the group makes is this regarding taxes in Kansas: "Income taxes were reduced for many Kansans in 2012 and 2013, and eliminated entirely for some, with a corresponding…
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The Kansas economy under guidance of moderates

The Kansas economy under guidance of moderates

Before wishing for a return to the "good old days," let's make sure we understand the record of the Kansas economy. Some in Kansas are calling for a return to the "moderate" and "reasonable" policies of past leadership, with a particular nostalgia for the tenures of governors Bill Graves and Kathleen Sebelius. But before getting what we wish for, let's make sure we understand the history of the Kansas economy. In September 2005 the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University published a report titled "Measuring Economic Performance for the 50 States and the District of…
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Job growth in the states and Kansas

Job growth in the states and Kansas

Let's ask critics of current Kansas economic policy if they're satisfied with the Kansas of recent decades. Critics of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and his economic policies have pounced on slow job growth in Kansas as compared to other states. The nearby illustration shows private sector job growth in the states during the period of the Graves/Sebelius/Parkinson regimes. This trio occupied the governor's office from 1994 to 2011. Kansas is the dark line. At the end of this period, Kansas is just about in the middle of the states. But notice that early in this period, the line for Kansas…
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Kansas Open Records Act reform possible

This week a committee of the Kansas House of Representatives will hear testimony on SB 10, a bill which would make small but welcome reforms to the Kansas Open Records Act. Following is the testimony I plan to deliver. Citizens should be aware that cities, counties, and school districts will probably oppose these reforms. Testimony to House Standing Committee on Federal and State Affairs as proponent of SB 10: Open meetings; minutes required; open records; charges limited. Bob Weeks, March 19, 2014 Representative Brunk and members of the Committee: Thank you for this opportunity to present testimony on problems with…
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2013 year in review: Top 10 stories from the Sunflower State

2013 year in review: Top 10 stories from the Sunflower State By Travis Perry, Kansas Watchdog OSAWATOMIE, Kan. -- It’s over, done, finalized, finito. With the final days and hours of 2013 ticking to a close, we figured it’s a good time for reflection on what the last 12 months have brought the Sunflower State. So, without further delay, Kansas Watchdog presents its Top 10 stories of 2013. 1. Wayward welfare dollars An in-depth investigation into howKansans spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in government welfare money came to a shocking conclusion: a striking number of transactions appear to be going toward anything but…
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Shortchanging Kansas schoolchildren, indeed

This month the New York Times published an editorial that advocates for more spending on Kansas public schools. While getting some facts wrong, the piece also overlooks the ways that Kansas schoolchildren are truly being shortchanged. Here's evidence supplied by the Times (Shortchanging Kansas Schoolchildren, October 13, 2013): "State spending on education has fallen an estimated 16.5 percent since 2008, including $500 million in cuts under the Brownback administration, resulting in teacher layoffs and larger class sizes." (Governor Brownback has responded to the editorial; see Kansas Governor responds to the Times.) The Times editorial board doesn't say how it calculated…
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Kansas school employment trends are not what you’d expect

Listening to Kansas school officials and legislators, you'd think that Kansas schools had very few teachers left, and that students were struggling in huge classes. But statistics from the state show that school employment has rebounded, both in terms of absolute numbers of teachers and certified employees, and the ratios of pupils to these employees. The story is not the same in every district. But considering the entire state, two trends emerge. For the past two years, the number of teachers employed in Kansas public schools has risen. Correspondingly, the pupil-teacher ratio has fallen. The trend for certified employees is…
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As lawmakers, Kansas judges should be selected democratically

While many believe that judges should not "legislate from the bench," that is, make law themselves, the reality is that lawmaking is a judicial function. In a democracy, lawmakers should be elected under the principle of "one person, one vote." But Kansas, which uses the Missouri Plan for judicial selection to its two highest courts, violates this principle. A recent paper by Kansas University School of Law Professor Stephen J. Ware explains the problem with the process used in Kansas. The paper is titled Originalism, Balanced Legal Realism and Judicial Selection: A Case Study and may be downloaded at no…
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Kansas Democrats mailing again, and wrong again

It's campaign season, and mail pieces are flying fast, replete with more Kansas Democratic errors. Examples come from two mailers from the Kansas Democratic Party targeting Joseph Scapa, a one-term Republican incumbent seeking to return to the House or Representatives. Here's one: "SCAPA voted for the largest cut to school funding in Kansas history -- schools are closing, class sizes are increasing and fees are going up on parents. Sub HB 2014 (HJ 5/12/11, p. 1570)" This is a repeat of a mistaken claim made on other anti-Scapa mailings, for which Kansas Democrats have apologized. Here's something from another ant-Scapa…
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Kansas Democrats wrong on school spending

While the Kansas Democratic Party apologized last week for misstating candidates' voting record on two mail pieces, the party and its candidates continue a campaign of misinformation regarding spending on Kansas public schools. Many of the allegations are made against Kansas Governor Sam Brownback for purportedly cutting school spending. An example is on the Kansas Democratic Party Facebook page, which can be seen nearby. As part of the party's website, on a page titled Restore Education Funding, Kansas Democrats make this claim: An Education Fact Between FY2008-2009 and FY2011-2012, general state aid to education was cut by nearly $400 million.…
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