Rhonda Holman

Wichita Eagle editorial board on the truth

A recent Wichita Eagle editorial penned by Rhonda Holman took Governor Sam Brownback to task for a mistake made in reporting Kansas spending numbers. (Eagle editorial: Brownback ’s numbers are suspect.) Specifically, Holman wrote: What’s going on here is clear: Brownback is embracing and repeating numbers that help promote his agenda, including what he sees as the need to push back against a court order for more state funding of public schools. But Kansans need to trust that what they hear from their governor, especially again and again, is rooted in truth, not cherry-picked, spun or flat wrong. So let's…
Read More

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…
Read More

Downtown Wichita issues not appreciated

Once again, the Wichita Eagle editorial board misses the point regarding downtown Wichita development. There may be some that are opposed to downtown simply because it's downtown, or for other silly reasons. That seems to be the focus of Rhonda Holman's editorial today. But speaking from a perspective of economic freedom and individual liberty, it's government interventionism in downtown that I object to. This is what harms Wichita, not the fact that people are living and working downtown or anywhere else, for that matter. The political cronyism involved in many projects in downtown Wichita is what harms our city. When…
Read More

Dangers of texting while driving: Are laws the solution?

There's no doubt that texting while driving is dangerous, as illustrated in this KAKE Television news story. But the government solution -- passing laws against texting while driving -- haven't worked, and some states have experienced an increase in crashes after implementing texting bans. A news release from the Highway Loss Data Institute summarizes the finding of a study: "It's illegal to text while driving in most US states. Yet a new study by researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) finds no reductions in crashes after laws take effect that ban texting by all drivers. In fact, such…
Read More

Kansas lawmakers, including 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…
Read More

Wichita school spending: The grain of truth

Reporting on USD 259, the Wichita public school district teacher contract negotiations provides another example of how schools are not being truthful regarding school spending. According to Wichita Eagle reporting, the district's attorney used "repeated cuts in state funding" as a reason why the district can't raise teacher salaries. He also referred to "the state and the cuts that have been made to school finance" and also said "I think it’s the state legislature and all the cuts that have occurred that have put us in this position." These statements contain a grain of truth, but in a wider context,…
Read More

Kansans uninformed on school spending

As the Kansas Legislature debates spending on schools, we have to hope that legislators are more knowledgeable about school spending than the average Kansan. Surveys have found that few Kansans have accurate information regarding school spending. Surprisingly, those with children in the public school system are even more likely to be uninformed regarding accurate figures. But when presented with accurate information about changes in school spending, few Kansans are willing to pay increased taxes to support more school spending. These are some of the findings of a 2010 survey commissioned by Kansas Policy Institute. Not only did Kansans underestimate school…
Read More

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday May 2, 2012

When government pays, government controls. Although most liberals would not admit this, it sometimes slips through: When government is paying for our health care, government then feels it must control our behavior. The Wichita Eagle's Rhonda Holman provides an example of this, when she wrote in a blog post about Kansas relaxing its smoking ban: "Especially with Medicaid costs swallowing up the state budget, lawmakers should be discouraging smoking, not accommodating more of it." The moral case for capitalism. "Two main charges are typically marshaled against capitalism: it generates inequality by allowing some to become wealthier than others; and it…
Read More

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday April 23, 2012

This week is ... Administrative Professionals week in Kansas. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued this proclamation, so evidently time spent on things like this is a proper and valid function of government. We ought to end these proclamations by government at all levels. ... At Wichita City Council meetings there have been cases where the meaningful business of the council has not started until nearly one hour after the start of the meeting. The hour has been consumed by proclamations, awards, remarks by council members, etc. While this happens, citizens with business before the council wait. And wait. They’re wasting…
Read More

Kansas may again resort to government art

Kansas may be ready to restore some state funding for the arts. But for reasons economic, human, and artistic, we ought to keep Kansas government out of art. Kansas should allow people themselves to decide how to spend their own money on what they think is important to them. To implement government funding of art is to override the freedom of individual choice with political and bureaucratic decisions. It's puzzling as to why artists -- generally a group of independent minds and free spirits -- would want to reintroduce government control over the funding of their craft. Perhaps it springs…
Read More

Kansas school establishment defenders: the video

A video criticizing the Kansas Policy Institute for placing a series of ads in Kansas newspapers claims KPI "conceals" and "ignores" facts and statistics. But I didn't have to work very hard to find many gross and blatant mistakes, distortions, and coverups in the video -- the same problems found in much of the communications of the Kansas public school spending bureaucracy and establishment. One slide in the video says this: "The numbers in those expensive, state-wide ads from the KPI only count 'A' or 'B' levels of performance as passing. KPI's numbers conceal the wide range of students who…
Read More

Kansas school spending: the complete picture

In an effort to drum up support for school spending in Kansas, advocates seize on a partial picture of school spending to make their case. An example: A recent Lawrence Journal-World editorial contained "In the last four years, per-pupil state funding for public schools has declined by about 14 percent, from $4,400 per student to $3,780." Writing in the Wichita Eagle, Rhonda Holman complained of "several years of cuts totaling $653 per pupil." (Reason to be wary, December 16 Wichita Eagle) Kansas school spending, as presented by the Wichita public school district. In a bond issue update video presentation for…
Read More

TIF and other subsidies harm Wichita

Everyone who cares about Wichita -- the entire city, not just special interests -- ought to be opposed to the continued use of tax increment financing (TIF) districts and other forms of subsidy that direct benefits to a small group at the expense of everyone else. Proponents of these programs such as Wichita Eagle editorial writer Rhonda Holman, most elected officials, and nearly all bureaucrats, need to justify these incentives. They make their case, of course, but the case is shallow. We need to look at research that studies these programs. We need to consider the effect of these programs…
Read More

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday November 10, 2011

Occupy Wall Street. One of the most troubling things about OWS is the anti-semitism. FreedomWorks has a video which explains. Also from FreedomWorks, president Matt Kibbe contributes a piece for the Wall Street Journal (Occupying vs. Tea Partying: Freedom and the foundations of moral behavior.). In it, he concludes: "Progressives' burning desire to create a tea party of the left may be clouding their judgment. Even Mr. Jones has grudgingly conceded that tea partiers have out-crowd-sourced, out-organized, and out-performed the most sophisticated community organizers on the left. 'Here's the irony,' he said back in July. 'They talk rugged individualist, but…
Read More

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday October 13, 2011

Wichita city leaders too cozy with developers? Yesterday I participated in a KAKE Television news story where I explained the need for pay-to-play laws in Wichita and Kansas. These laws generally restrict officeholders from participating in votes or activities that would enrich their campaign contributors. In the story I said "What I, and some of my political allies object to, is what is happening in plain sight: In that there is a relatively small group of people -- and their spouses and people who work at their companies -- who regularly contribute to a wide variety of city council members,…
Read More

The Wichita Eagle on naysayers: a disservice to Wichita

Yesterday's op-ed by Rhonda Holman in The Wichita Eagle reveals a crucial need for a newspaper with at least one conservative voice on its editorial board (Say ‘no’ to naysayers, October 9, 2011). Here are a few ways in which Holman and her newspaper's editorial section are wrong about downtown Wichita development and a few other issues, and how the op-ed is a disservice to the people of Wichita: The real world, according to Holman While Holman cites the "real world" as the need to pour massive subsidy into downtown Wichita, I might ask this question: Why is downtown Wichita…
Read More

Kansas tax overhaul skeptics

In yesterday's Wichita Eagle, editorial writer Rhonda Holman expresses her skepticism that income tax cuts in Kansas will do much good for the state. First, of all, there's one very good reason to reduce taxes in Kansas -- and everywhere: doing that lets people keep more of their own money, and keeps it in the productive private sector. This is good. There's also a dangerous misconception contained in this editorial. Holman mentions the $4.2 billion in sales tax exemptions, referring to the amount of additional sales tax revenue that the state would purportedly collect if the exemptions were eliminated. First,…
Read More

The resolve of the Wichita City Council

The Wichita Eagle's Rhonda Holman concedes that opponents of subsidy for Wichita hotel developers may prevail in a petition drive and possible special election, and remarks: "If so, they will have made an ideological point most people already agree with -- that it would be best if developers paid for downtown development." (Press ahead downtown, September 18, 2011 Wichita Eagle) Holman is referring to a refund of 75 percent of the transient guest tax that the hotel is seeking. This subsidy is estimated to be worth $134,000 per year for 15 years, or $2,010,000 in total. Despite her recognition of…
Read More

Wichita City Council bows to special interests

Yesterday's meeting of the Wichita City Council revealed a council -- except for one member -- totally captured by special interests, to the point where the council, aided by city staff, used a narrow legal interpretation in order to circumvent a statutorily required public hearing process. The issue was a downtown hotel to be developed by a team lead by David Burk of Marketplace Properties. The subsidies Burk wants, specifically tax increment financing (TIF), require a public hearing to be held. The city scheduled the hearing for September 13th. That schedule, however, didn't suit Burk. In order to provide him…
Read More

Despite subsidy program, Wichita flights are declining

Supporters of the Kansas Affordable Airfares Program are proud of the program's success. But looking at the statistics uncovers a troubling trend that is obscured by the facts used to promote the program. The program provides taxpayer-funded grants to airlines so that they will provide low-cost service to cities in Kansas. The thought is that by propping up a discount carrier, other airlines will be forced to reduce their fares. By far the largest consumer of these subsidies is Airtran Airways in Wichita. For this goal, the program has worked, probably. We have to say "probably" because we can never…
Read More