Sam Brownback

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday January 31, 2011

Some downtown Wichita properties plummet in value. A strategy of Real Development -- the "Minnesota Guys" -- in Wichita has been to develop and sell floors of downtown office buildings as condominiums. Some of these floors have been foreclosed upon and have come back on the market. Some once carried mortgages of $400,000 or more, meaning that at one point a bank thought they were worth at least that much. But now four floors in the Broadway Plaza Building, three floors of the Petroleum Building, two floors of Sutton Place, and one floor of the Orpheum Office Center are available…
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Prospects for successful deregulation in Kansas

In the following short piece from the Wall Street Journal, Paul Rubin tells how difficult it was to battle regulation during the Reagan Administration, and therefore offers little hope that President Obama's recent initiative to curb regulation will have any success. In Kansas, Governor Brownback has created the "Office of the Repealer" and has appointed Secretary of Administration Dennis Taylor to serve as the "Repealer." Will this initiative be successful in Kansas? Based on Rubin's experience in the Reagan Administration, I will be pleasantly surprised if any meaningful repeal or reform of regulation is achieved. Can Deregulation Work? It was…
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Arts funding in Kansas

Arts funding by the State of Kansas has been in the news recently, as Governor Sam Brownback has proposed that the state stop funding the Kansas Arts Commission. This is a good move, as Kansas would be better off without state-funded art for two reasons: economic and artistic. The economic case for government art funding Supporters of government art funding make the case that government-funded art is good for business and the economy. They have an impressive-looking study titled Arts & Economic Prosperity III: The Economic Impact of the Nonprofit Arts and Culture Industry in the State of Kansas, which…
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Stossel on politicians’ promises

Recently John Stossel produced a television show titled Politicians’ Top 10 Promises Gone Wrong. The show features segments on government programs and why they've gone wrong, with a focus on the unintended consequences of the programs. Particularly illuminating are the attempts by programs' supporters to justify their worth. Now the program is available to view on the free hulu service by clicking on Politicians’ Top 10 Promises Gone Wrong. One of the segments on the show explained the harm of Cash for Clunkers, in which serviceable cars were destroyed so that new cars could be sold. The program simply stole…
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Kansas: business-friendly or capitalism-friendly?

Plans for the Kansas Republican Party to make Kansas government more friendly to business run the risk of creating false, or crony capitalism instead of an environment of genuine growth opportunity for all business. An example is the almost universally-praised deal to keep Hawker Beechcraft in Kansas. This deal follows the template of several other deals Kansas struck over the past few years, and outgoing Governor Mark Parkinson is proud of them. Incoming Governor Sam Brownback approved of the Hawker deal, and probably would have approved of the others. Locally, the City of Wichita uses heavy-handed intervention in the economy…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday December 30, 2010

Kansas Meadowlark blog recast. Earl Glynn of Overland Park has reformed his Kansas Meadowlark site from a blog to a news site along the lines of the Drudge Report. Glynn's full-time job is working for Kansas Watchdog. Longwell site noted. A website supporting the candidacy of Wichita Vice Mayor Jeff Longwell for re-election to his current position has been spotted. Title: Vote for Jeff Longwell. Kansas legislative issues to watch. Fort Hays State University political science professor Chapman Rackaway lists the things to watch for in the upcoming session of the Kansas Legislature, which opens on January 10. Here's his…
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Wind power again reaps subsidy

The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is at the forefront of letting Americans know just how bad an investment our country is making in wind power, as well as other forms of renewable energy. A recent Review and Outlook piece titled The Wind Subsidy Bubble: Green pork should be a GOP budget target holds these facts: The recent tax bill has a $3 billion grant for wind projects. The 2009 stimulus bill had $30 billion for wind. Wind power installations are way down from recent years. The 2008 stimulus bill forces taxpayers to pay 30% of a renewable…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday December 28, 2010

Hawker Beechcraft deal breaks new ground. When asked by KAKE Television's This Week in Kansas host Tim Brown if the Hawker Beechcraft deal was good for Kansas, Wichita State University professor H. Edward Flentje said that while the deal was "great news" in the short term, it raised policy questions in the long term. He said he didn't think the state has invested in a company that is downsizing, with Hawker shrinking by one-third over the past few years. He added that he believed this is the first time the state has a provision of state law to retain jobs,…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday December 27, 2010

This week at Wichita City Council. This week, as is the usual practice for the fourth Tuesday of each month, the agenda for the Wichita City Council features only consent items. These consent items are thought -- at least by someone -- to be of routine and non-controversial nature, and the council votes on them in bulk as a single item, unless a council member wishes to "pull" an item for discussion and possibly a separate vote. One such consent item is "Payment for Settlement of Claim -- Estate of Christopher Perkins." As Brent Wistrom reports in the Wichita Eagle's,…
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Wind power: a wise investment for Wichita and Kansas?

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Bryce explains the terrible economics now facing the wind power energy, with emphasis on T. Boone Pickens, who has made a big splash with his plans to invest in wind power. A few takeaways: Pickens' $2 billion investment in buying wind turbines has left him with "a slew of turbines he can't use."U.S. government subsidies amount to $6.44 per million BTUs generated by wind, but natural gas costs just $4 now. These low prices may be around for years, with gas market futures contracts below $6 through 2017.Even with the subsidy, gas can't…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday December 21, 2010

Steineger switches teams. Chris Steineger, a Kansas State Senator from Kansas City, has switched to the Republican Party. As a Democrat, Steineger had compiled a voting record more conservative than many senate Republicans. On the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year -- recognizing that supporting economic freedom is not the same as conservatism or Republicanism -- Steineger had a voting record more in favor of economic freedom than that of 15 of the senate's Republicans. Kansas school funding reform to wait. Incoming Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says that the Kansas economy comes first, and then school finance, Medicaid, and…
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Earmark requests for Kansas

The federal omnibus spending bill introduced earlier this week has now been abandoned. That's good, because even with all the talk about earmark reform, this bill was loaded. Based on a database compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, I've compiled a list of earmarks requested for Kansas. These are requested, not passed, and their future status is unknown. The list is presented below. It's illuminating to experience the breadth of earmark requests made and their justifications. Here's an example of just how out of control these requests can become. A request by Senator Sam Brownback, who is soon to become…
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Brownback appointments a mixed bag

Incoming Kansas governor Sam Brownback has made some appointments to his economic team. Two of the appointments illustrate why Kansans need to maintain a cautious watch on Brownback as he takes over the governor's office. A third gives us hope that the Kansas budget can be fully understood and managed. The major mistake made by the new governor is retaining Deb Miller as Kansas Secretary of Transportation. Miller promoted the very expensive and largely unneeded highway plan that passed the legislature and was signed by the governor. She also promotes the expansion of passenger rail service in Kansas, which is…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday November 30, 2010

AFP to host climate conference event. This week the United Nations Climate Change Conference meets in Cancun, and Americans for Prosperity is taking its Hot Air Tour there. There are two ways to view this event: online, or by attending a watch party. There's one in Wichita Thursday evening. Click on Hot Air Tour: Live from Cancun for more information and to register. Christmas organ concert tomorrow. On Wednesday December first, Wichita State University Organ Professor Lynne Davis will present the First Annual Christmas Organ Concert. This event is part of the "Wednesdays in Wiedemann" series. Tomorrow's program includes voice…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday November 26, 2010

Bill Gates on school reform. Microsoft Chairman and founder Bill Gates, in an effort to help the states save money on schools, recently gave a speech, as reported by the New York Times: "He suggests they end teacher pay increases based on seniority and on master’s degrees, which he says are unrelated to teachers’ ability to raise student achievement. He also urges an end to efforts to reduce class sizes. Instead, he suggests rewarding the most effective teachers with higher pay for taking on larger classes or teaching in needy schools." This is a refreshing take on the issue of…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday November 17, 2010

Kansas Senator Lee to tax court. State of the State KS reports that Kansas Senator Janis Lee has been appointed by Governor Mark Parkinson to the Kansas State Court of Tax Appeals. Lee is a Democrat from Kensington in northwest Kansas. This action opens another position in the senate -- another three pending vacancies need to be filled due to senators who won election to other offices -- and others are likely to follow as incoming governor Sam Brownback fills his cabinet. Lee scored 13 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, which is a voting record…
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Florida school choice helps public schools

In Florida, a tax credit program that funds scholarships that allow students to attend private schools helps everyone, even those who stay in public schools, according to a study by EducationNext, a project of Stanford University. Tax credit programs are often derided by the government school establishment as just a way to let rich families get credit for expensive private school tuition. But in Florida, three-fourths of the students that participate are black or Hispanic, and 60 percent are from single parent homes. The Florida scholarships are worth between $3,950 and $4,100, which is just about the same as base…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday November 16, 2010

Future of California. George Gilder, writing in the Wall Street Journal, lays out a grim future for California based on voters' refusal to overturn AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. Of the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state, Gilder writes: "That's a 30% drop followed by a mandated 80% overall drop by 2050. Together with a $500 billion public-pension overhang, the new energy cap dooms the state to bankruptcy." He says that AB 32 may not be necessary at all: "The irony is that a century-long trend of advance in conventional 'non-renewable' energy -- from wood…
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Kansas school spending advocates sue; opportunity for reform is overlooked

Lost in the news last week was the announcement of a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against Kansas taxpayers in order to gain more funding for public schools. But now that the election is over, Kansans are starting to turn their attention to this lawsuit. So far, the discussion is missing something that could solve our problems without spending any additional money. In its search to find a solution to the problem of funding its government schools, Kansas is overlooking a sure solution: widespread school choice. While proponents of public school spending argue that school choice programs drain away dollars from needy, underfunded…
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