Year in Review: 2017

Here are highlights from Voice for Liberty for 2017. Was it a good year for the principles of individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas?

Also, don’t miss these notable episodes of WichitaLiberty.TV in 2017:

January

No one is stealing* from KPERS. No one is stealing from KPERS, the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. But there are related problems.

Understanding job growth and the Kansas tax reforms. Commissioned by Kansas Policy Institute and written by researchers from Arizona State University, a new report looks at the Kansas economy after the tax reforms passed in 2012.

Kansas school employment. Kansas school employment rose slightly for the current school year, and ratios of employees to pupils fell, also slightly.

Kansas civil asset forfeiture. The law of Kansas civil asset forfeiture is among the worst in the nation, and demands reform.

In Kansas, the war on blight continues. Kansas governments are trying — again — to expand their powers to take property to the detriment of one of the fundamental rights of citizens: private property rights.

Fake news, meet fake research. Do you think we have a problem with fake news? Let me introduce you to fake research.

February

Analysis of proposed tax changes in Kansas. Proposed changes in the Kansas motor fuel tax and sales tax on groceries affects households in different ways.

Greater Wichita Partnership. Greater Wichita Partnership features untruthful information on its website, which casts doubt on the reliability of the organization and the City of Wichita.

Expanding Medicaid in Kansas. Expanding Medicaid in Kansas would be costly, undoubtedly more costly than estimated, has an uncertain future, and doesn’t provide very good results for those it covers.

In Wichita, the surveillance state expands again. In Wichita, we see another example of how once government starts a surveillance program, it probably won’t produce the promised results, yet will be expanded.

State and local government employee and payroll. Considering all state and local government employees in proportion to population, Kansas has many, compared to other states, and especially so in education.

March

Downtown Wichita tax base is not growing. There’s been much investment in downtown Wichita, we’re told, but the assessed value of property isn’t rising.

Wichita business property taxes still high. An ongoing study reveals that generally, property taxes on commercial and industrial property in Wichita are high. In particular, taxes on commercial property in Wichita are among the highest in the nation.

Kansas manufacturing and oil not recovering. While total employment in Kansas is growing, two industries are the exception.

Highway budget cuts and sweeps in Kansas. A public interest group makes claims about Kansas roads and highways that are not supported by data. It’s not even close.

Sedgwick County to consider raising debt limit. This week the Sedgwick County Commission will consider raising its limit on borrowing for reasons which need to be revealed, and then carefully examined.

For Wichita Eagle, no concern about relationships. Should the Wichita Eagle, a city’s only daily newspaper and the state’s largest, be concerned about the parties to its business relationships?

April

Fake government spawns fake news. Discussions of public policy need to start from a common base of facts and information. An episode shows that both our state government and news media are not helping.

Downtown Wichita business trends. There has been much investment in Downtown Wichita, both public and private. What has been the trend in business activity during this time?

Downtown Wichita jobs, sort of. The claim of 26,000 workers in downtown Wichita is based on misuse of data so blatant it can be described only as malpractice.

Growth in Downtown Wichita Jobs. Even if we accept the measure of jobs used by the City of Wichita, the trend is in the wrong direction. Citizens should ask for truth and accountability.

May

On Wichita’s STAR bond promise, we’ve heard it before. Are the City of Wichita’s projections regarding subsidized development as an economic driver believable?

Metro Monitor for the Wichita economy. A research project by The Brookings Institution illustrates the performance of the Wichita-area economy.

Coverage of Downtown Wichita workers. The Wichita Eagle’s coverage of the number of workers in Downtown Wichita isn’t fake news, just wrong news.

Wichita, Kansas, and U.S. economic dashboards. Dashboards of economic indicators for Wichita and Kansas, compared to the United States.

June

The yardstick for the Kansas experiment. A politician’s boasting should not be the yardstick for policy.

In Kansas, sweeps to continue. Even though the Kansas Legislature raised taxes, sweeps from the highway fund will continue.

Decoding Duane Goossen. When reading the writings of former Kansas State Budget Director Duane Goossen, it’s useful to have a guide grounded in reality.

July

Deconstructing Don Hineman. Another Kansas legislator explains why raising taxes was necessary. So he says.

More Cargill incentives from Wichita detailed. More, but likely not all, of the Cargill incentives will be before the Wichita City Council this week.

Wichita WaterWalk contract not followed, again. Wichita city hall failed to uphold the terms of a development agreement from five years ago, not monitoring contracts that protect the public interest.

Tax collections by the states. An interactive visualization of tax collections by state governments.

A Wichita social media town hall. A City of Wichita town hall meeting ends in less than nine minutes, with a question pending and unanswered.

August

Wichita employment trends. While the unemployment rate in the Wichita metropolitan area has been declining, the numbers behind the decline are not encouraging.

Wichita in the Wall Street Journal. A Wall Street Journal article reports on Wichita, but there are a few issues with quotes from the mayor.

Naftzger Park public hearing. On Tuesday August 15 the Wichita City Council will hold a public hearing to consider authorizing spending TIF funds on Naftzger Park.

In Wichita, not your tax dollars. At a Wichita City Council meeting, citizens are told, “These tax dollars are not your tax dollars.”

September

Wichita job growth. Wichita economic development efforts viewed in context.

Wichita economy shrinks. The Wichita-area economy was smaller in 2016 than the year before.

Kansas highway spending. A look at actual spending on Kansas highways, apart from transfers.

October

Kansas school fund balances. Kansas school fund balances rose this year, in both absolute dollars and dollars per pupil.

Downtown Wichita report omits formerly prominent data. The new State of Downtown Wichita report for 2017 is missing something. What is it, and why is it missing?

Living in downtown Wichita. Wichita economic development officials use a circuitous method of estimating the population of downtown Wichita, producing a number much higher than Census Bureau estimates.

November

Kansas school spending. New data for spending in Kansas schools is available.

In Wichita, the surveillance state expands again — and again. In Wichita, we see another example of how once government starts a surveillance program, the urge to expand it is irresistible.

Wichita personal income up, a little. For 2016, personal income in Wichita rose, but is still below 2014 levels.

PEAK benefits across Kansas. The use of PEAK, a Kansas economic development incentive program, varies widely among counties.

December

NOTA a needed voting reform. “None of the Above” voting lets voters cast a meaningful vote, and that can start changing things.

Wichita school student/teacher ratios. During years of purported budget cuts, what has been the trend of student/teacher ratios in the Wichita public school district?

Spirit expands in Wichita. It’s good news that Spirit AeroSystems is expanding in Wichita. Let’s look at the cost.

Spirit Aerosystems incentives reported. Opinions vary on economic development incentives, but we ought to expect to be told the truth of the details.

Delano catalyst site. A development near downtown Wichita may receive subsidy through four different avenues.

Panhandling in Wichita. The City of Wichita cracks down on panhandling.

Naftzger Park project details. The city has finalized a proposal for a development near Naftzger Park. It includes a few new and creative provisions.

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