Voice For Liberty
Individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas.
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If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else's expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.
-- Thomas Sowell

There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.
-- F.A. Hayek

Despite the giant dollar amounts, the Upjohn Institute found that investors mostly don’t change their investment decisions based on incentives.
-- Nathan Jensen

The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
-- Mark Twain
Kansas jobs, June 2019
Employment and the labor force in Kansas fell slightly in June 2019, and continued a trend of mostly slower growth than the nation over the year. Click for more.
In Wichita, here’s what tax decrement means
Wichita has a financing mechanism known as the Gilbert-Mosley tax decrement fund. I knew about tax increment financing, but I never really understood how tax decrement financing worked. I had thought that in this context, “decrement” had a sophisticated meaning that I wasn’t able to understand because I wasn’t smart enough, or I hadn’t tried hard enough, or I didn’t have the correct documents to read.

Now, Chase M. Billingham and Sean Sandefur have published detailed research that explains how the Gilbert-Mosley financing works. Click for more.
Metropolitan employment and labor force
A visualization of employment, labor force, and unemployment rate for metropolitan areas, now with data through May 2019.

How does the Wichita metropolitan area compare with others regarding employment, labor force, and unemployment rate? A nearby example shows data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor. Considering growth of employment since the start of the decade, the answer is Wichita has not performed well. Click for more.
Candidate policy briefings
This week Kansas Policy Institute offers briefings on issues for local government and schools. Held in Salina, Pittsburg, and Wichita. Click for more information.
Kansas new business decreases as nation grows
Kansas is the only state in the country with negative new business growth since President Trump took office, according to Bloomberg. From The Sentinel. Click for more.
KASB misleads again in pursuit of more school funding
There isn’t a single legitimate study proving that spending more money caused achievement to improve (proving causation is much different than believing in the notion), but that’s the underlying premise of KASB’s spending and achievement claims. Money matters, but it’s how money is spent that can make a difference, and achievement will remain stubbornly low for many students until (1) enough parents understand the true nature of achievement in Kansas, and then (2) pressure legislators to hold school boards accountable. From Kansas Policy Institute. Click for more.
KASB falsely ranks Kansas 9th best education achievement in the country
Question: How can Kansas have the 9th best achievement in the nation when achievement rankings on NAEP and ACT range from the mid-teens to the low 30s?

Answer: When KASB heavily weights things that don’t measure academic learning. From Kansas Policy Institute. Click for more.
Wichita transit, by the numbers
Transit in Wichita isn’t working very well, and it is expensive. Click for more.
Wichita transit center application
Although plans have changed, an application by the City of Wichita holds interesting observations and claims. Click for more.
Kansas Freedom Index for 2019
The 2019 Freedom Index is intended to provide educational information to the public about broad economic and education issues that are important to the citizens of our State. It is the product of nonpartisan analysis, study, and research and is not intended to directly or indirectly endorse or oppose any candidate for public office. From Kansas Policy Institute. Click for more.
Wichita jobs and employment, May 2019
For the Wichita metropolitan area in May 2019, the labor force is up, the number of unemployed persons is up, the unemployment rate is unchanged, and the number of people working is up when compared to the same month one year ago. Seasonal data shows declines in labor force and jobs from April. Click for more.
Updated: Economic indicators in the states
After a trend of decline, coincident and leading economic indicators for Kansas are improving.

For Kansas, the coincident index has been on a mostly downhill trend since May 2018. But for April and May of this year, the index has risen. The leading index shows the same trend: A peak one year ago, then mostly down except rising for the last two months. Click for more.
Updated: National transit database
An interactive visualization of data over time from the National Transit Database. Now with data through 2017. Click for more.
Kansas personal income
For the first quarter of 2019, the rate of personal income growth in Kansas was less than the national rate, although better than the Plains states. Click for more.
Wichita population, according to Mayor Longwell
It is unfortunate that Wichita city and metro populations are falling. It is unimaginable that our city’s top leader is not aware of the latest population trends. Click for more.
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Public and Private Housing

John Todd, a community activist and retired real estate developer, spoke to interested citizens about private versus public housing initiatives Monday, June 24, 2019. Todd built his career in the private sector creating opportunities for low-cost, entry-level home ownership that let people build equity. He speaks against government taking the role of developer as with the city of Wichita's "Places for People," a large-scale initiative to use taxpayer money and government decision making to provide housing.
Concern grows about Wichita infill plan
On a recent Monday night in Wichita, about 20 people gathered in a conference room at the Americans for Prosperity offices to hear a presentation about the Wichita infill plan called Places for People. From The Sentinel. Click for more.
Kansas jobs, May 2019
Employment in Kansas grew in May 2019, but continued a trend of slower growth than the nation. The labor force is smaller.

Notable: Of the growth of 600 jobs from April to May, 100 were in the private sector, and 500 in government. Click for more
Airport traffic statistics, 2018
Airport traffic data presented in an interactive visualization, updated through 2018. Click for more
Todd Johnson, Wichita Crime Commission
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club this week: Todd Johnson, president of the Wichita Metro Crime Commission. This audio presentation was recorded on June 21, 2019. Click for more
Wichita and other airports
How does the Wichita airport compare to others? Click for more
New metropolitan rankings regarding knowledge-based industries and entrepreneurship
New research provides insight into the Wichita metropolitan area economy and dynamism.

There have been some rankings showing Wichita doing well in jobs at young firms. That’s good, as young firms — which are different from small business — are vitally important to economic growth.

This study, however, shows Wichita lagging in young firm employment ratio. In these rankings, Wichita came in at position 247 of 379 metro areas. That is better than the overall ranking for Wichita, which is at number 319. Click for more.
Updated: Metropolitan populations
A visualization of the population of metropolitan statistical areas, now with annual data from 1969 through 2018. Click for more
Wichita airport traffic
Traffic is rising at the Wichita airport. How does it compare to others? Click for more
State government tax collections
Now data for fiscal year 2018 is available, and it shows Kansas collecting $1,172 per person in individual income taxes, an increase of $372 or 46.5 percent over 2017. Click for more.
Populations of the states
An interactive table and charts of populations in the states and regions, from 1929 through 2018. Click for more.
Naftzger Park, according to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell
He had an opportunity to learn the true history of Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita. But Mayor Jeff Longwell didn’t learn, or maybe he doesn’t care. Click for more.
Wichita population, 2018
The City of Wichita lost 1,052 in population from 2017 to 2018, a decline of 0.27 percent.The estimate of population on July 1, 2017 was revised from 390,591 to 390,317, meaning that for 2017, Wichita population declined by 242 from the July 1, 2016 population of 390,509.

With the revised 2017 figure, Wichita has had two years of declining population. Click for more.
Sedgwick County job growth continues strong pace
In the fourth quarter of 2018, Sedgwick County continued strong job growth. The job growth rate for Sedgwick County was 100th best among the nation’s 350 largest counties. Click for more.
What could be done with WaterWalk
There is (was) an opportunity for Wichita to break the logjam holding up development at WaterWalk. Click for more.
King of Freight move a step sideways
A Wichita firm plans to move its offices to what was billed as the city’s premier entertainment district. Click for more.
Wichita personal income growing, but slowly
Among the nation’s 383 metropolitan areas, Wichita ranked 347th for personal income growth. Click for more.
Kansas personal income growing, but slowly
For 2017, just four states had less growth in personal income than Kansas. Click for more.
Wichita public schools, by the charts
The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for USD 259, the Wichita public school district, provides a look at trends over the years. Here are some highlights from the CAFR for the year ending June 30, 2018, known as fiscal year 2018. Click for more.
The finances of Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita
A truthful accounting of the finances of Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita shows a large loss. Despite hosting the NCAA basketball tournament, the arena’s “net income” fell. Click for more.
KPI releases 2019 Green Book
Each year in the Green Book, Kansas Policy Institute explores the relationship between economic growth and the size of government. From Kansas Policy Institute. Click for more.
More Wichita planning on tap
We should be wary of government planning in general. But when those who have been managing and planning the foundering Wichita-area economy want to step up their management of resources, we risk compounding our problems. Click for more.
Wichita ballpark STAR bonds, 2018 issue
A bond disclosure document anticipated a development agreement for land surrounding the new Wichita ballpark. Click for more.
Updated: Gross domestic product by state and industry
An interactive visualization of GDP by state and industry, updated with annual data through 2018.

As shown in the accompanying illustration, Kansas has not kept up with most surrounding states. Click for more.
State of the City, Wichita: Employment strength
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell’s State of the City video relies on flimsy evidence and plucks scant good news from a sea of bad. This is a problem. “Recession-proof” glosses over recent years of declining production. “Historically low” unemployment rates ignore a stagnant and declining labor force. “An across-the-board increase in overall jobs this year” doesn’t contextualize that the forecast rate of growth for Wichita is anemic compared to the nation. Click for more.
Kansas GDP
In the fourth quarter of 2018, the Kansas economy grew at the annual rate of 0.9 percent, down from 1.2 percent the previous quarter. Over the last eight quarters, Kansas has averaged quarterly growth rates of 0.5 percent in annual terms. For the nation, the rate was 2.7 percent. For the Plains states, it was 1.5 percent. Click for more.
State of the City, Wichita: The bright future
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell’s State of the City video doesn’t seem to be based on reality. Click for more.
Wichita population falls; outmigration continues
The population of the Wichita MSA fell from 2017 to 2018, and net domestic migration continues at a high level. Click for more.
Wichita aerospace manufacturing concentration
Wichita leaders want to diversify the area economy. Has there been progress? Click for more.
Updated: Employment in the States
An interactive visualization of the civilian labor force, employment, and unemployment, for each state. Updated through March 2019.

As seen in the nearby example, Kansas continues its undistinguished record in job growth as compared to nearby states. In the visualization, you can easily choose states to compare, select a timeframe, and look at labor force, employment, and unemployment. Click for more.
Kansas personal income
For 2018, the rate of personal income growth in Kansas was near the bottom of the states, although the fourth quarter was much better. Click for more.
Pay no attention to the Ferris wheel on the riverbank
When the City of Wichita shows architectural renderings, are we to treat them as promises, or as someone’s unrealizable dream? Click for more.
In Wichita, we don’t know who we’re dealing with
Wichita takes a big risk entering in a public-private partnership without knowing its partners. Click for more.
Updated: Kansas hotel guest tax collections
Kansas hotel guest tax collections presented in an interactive visualization. Click for more.
Wichita, not that different
We have a lot of neat stuff in Wichita. Other cities do, too. Click for more.
2018 A-F Grading of Kansas Schools Released
One year ago, Kansas Policy Institute unveiled the initial groundbreaking A-F grading system for Kansas public schools and released the 2018 grade card last week. KPI undertook that effort to create a reporting system so that parents could more easily understand exactly how schools are performing. The Kansas Department of Education (KSDE), like all state education departments across the country, publishes a “Report Card” on its website, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to synthesize all that information to determine overall performance of individual schools. From Kansas Policy Institute. Click for more.
Wichita considers a new stadium
The City of Wichita plans subsidized development of a sports facility as an economic driver. Originally published in July 2017. Click for more.
Wichita and national jobs
Overall, since 2011 — roughly the end of the Great Recession — Wichita has been gaining jobs, evidence being its trend line above zero in the nearby chart which shows the change in jobs over the same month one year ago. But the line has not always been above zero, indicating months where the Wichita metropolitan area had fewer jobs than the year before. Click for more.
Wichita city protections for ballpark land development
The City of Wichita says it has safeguards built in to the proposed baseball park land development deal. We need safeguards. The city is borrowing to pay for the project, and the city expects to collect a lot of money from surrounding development, necessary to pay off the borrowed money. Click for more.
Wichita ballpark land deal: John Todd
In this short video, John Todd tells us why the city is not acting in the best interest of citizens regarding the land development deal near the new Wichita ballpark.  Click for more.
Wichita vets its baseball partner(s)
The City of Wichita tells us it has thoroughly vetted the majority owner of the new Wichita baseball team. Click for more.
Did Wichita forget the interest?
In a presentation, Wichita economic development officials ignore the cost of borrowing money. Click for more.
In Wichita, respecting the people’s right to know
The City of Wichita says it values open and transparent government. But the city’s record in providing information and records to citizens is poor, and there hasn’t been much improvement. Click for more.
Wichita legal notices could be more accessible
Kansas law requires publication of certain notices in newspapers, but cities like Wichita could also make them available in other ways that are easier to use. Click for more.
Update: Wichita city sales tax not passed
There was no successful Wichita city sales tax election. City documents were mistaken, which raises more issues. Click for more.
In Wichita, no tenant poaching, unless waived
The city of Wichita has included anti-poaching clauses in development agreements to protect non-subsidized landlords, but the agreements are without teeth. Click for more.
Coverage of Wichita baseball owner Lou Schwechheimer
Press coverage of new Wichita baseball team majority owner Lou Schwechheimer. Click for more.
Is the Wichita mayor satisfied with this?
A gloomy jobs forecast is greeted with apparent approval by Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell. Click for more.
Sedgwick County Commission needs to slow down, get things right
Sedgwick County needs to make sure past issues are known and settled before proceeding with hiring a new county manager, writes former commissioner Richard Ranzau. Click for more.
Another Wichita survey, another set of problems
The Wichita Eagle editorial board notices problems with a survey gathering feedback on Century II. Click for more.
Wichita mayor promotes inaccurate picture of local economy
Wichita city leaders will latch onto any good news, no matter from how flimsy the source. But they ignore the news they don’t like, even though it may come from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Click for more.
Wichita, a recession-proof city
Wichita city officials promote an article that presents an unrealistic portrayal of the local economy. Click for more.
Job growth in Wichita: Great news?
A tweet from a top Wichita city official promotes great news that really isn’t so great. There is good news — Wichita is not forecast to lose jobs, as it has in the recent past. But the rate of growth seen for Wichita is not robust, and that’s a serious problem, especially when our officials think it’s good. Click for more.
In Wichita, a gentle clawback
Despite the mayor’s bluster, the city failed to enforce the agreement it made to protect taxpayers. Instead, the company receives $153,000 in free taxes that it didn’t deserve, along with an interest-free loan of $100,000 amortized over four years. Click for more.
Wichita employment to grow in 2019
The forecast for Wichita metro area employment in 2019 calls for modest growth of 0.9 percent, according to the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University. This follows growth of 0.8 percent in 2018. Click for more.
Personal income in Wichita rises, but slowly
For 2017, personal income in Wichita rose, but slower than the national rate. For all metropolitan areas in the United States, personal income rose by 4.5 percent. For the Wichita metro area, the increase was 2.3 percent. Of 383 metropolitan areas, Wichita’s growth rate was at position 342. Click for more.
Sedgwick County tax exemptions
Unlike the City of Wichita, Sedgwick County has kept track of its tax exemptions. Click for more.
Efficiencies in Sedgwick County government
A document that hasn’t been made public details savings achieved in Sedgwick County over a recent period of nearly three years. Click for more.
The use of sales tax proceeds in Wichita
Must the City of Wichita spend its share of Sedgwick County sales tax proceeds in a specific way? Click for more.
Sedgwick County income and poverty
Census data show Sedgwick County continuing to fall behind the nation in two key measures. Click for more.
Ranked-choice voting in Kansas
A look at ranked-choice voting and how it might have worked in the Kansas Republican gubernatorial primary election in August 2018. Click for more.
Wichita property tax still high on commercial property
An ongoing study reports that 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. Click for more.
Wichita and Midwest income
How much do Wichitans earn at their jobs, compared to other cities? Click for more.
Local government employment in Kansas
Kansas has nearly the highest number of local government employees per resident, compared to other states. For all local government employees, Kansas had 50.59 per thousand residents in 2016, higher than all states (and areas) but the District of Columbia and Wyoming. These employees had an annual payroll of $2,141.16 per resident. Ten states were higher. Click for more.
NAEP results for 2017 available in interactive visualizations
When properly considered, Kansas often underperforms the nation in the most recent assessment of “The Nation’s Report Card.” Click for more.
Wichita economy shrinks, and a revision
Statistics released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, show gross domestic product (GDP) figures for metropolitan areas. Also included are revised statistics for previous years.

For 2017, the Wichita metropolitan area GDP, in real dollars, fell by 1.4 percent. Revised statistics for 2016 indicate growth of 3.8 percent for that year. Last year BEA reported growth of -1.4 percent. Click for more.
Pete Meitzner for Sedgwick County?
In normal times, Republicans may be reluctant to vote for a Democrat for the Sedgwick County Commission. But these are not normal times, and a vote for Pete Meitzner sends a message that we just don’t care about our economy. Click for more.
Kansas highway pavement conditions
Each year the Kansas Department of Transportation surveys the condition of highway pavement and issues a report called the Network Optimization System (NOS) Survey.

Of the condition of highways, the report notes: “Since the data was first collected in 1983, the percentage of pavement surface in good condition has appreciably increased while the percentage of poor pavement has significantly decreased.”. Click for more.
Kansas school spending, through 2018
Charts of Kansas school spending presented in different forms. One of the most important charts shows state spending per-pupil, adjusted for inflation. It shows the total of state and local spending, which is useful because in 2015 the state made a change in the way revenue is allocated between state and local sources. It also shows base state aid per pupil, which is an important number as it is the starting point for the school funding formula. Click for more.
GDP by metropolitan area and component
The Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, gathers data about economic output, known as gross domestic product. The visualization presented here presents this data in tabular and graphic form. Click for more.
State government employees in Kansas
Kansas has more state government employees per resident than most states, and the trend is rising. Two things are evident: The level of employment in Kansas is generally higher than the other states, and the trend in Kansas is rising when many states are level or declining. This data counters the story often told, which is that state government employment has been slashed. Click for more.
Kansas state and local taxes
Among nearby states, Kansas collects a lot of taxes, on a per-resident basis.

From the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2018, Kansas and its local governmental units collected an average of $681 per quarter per resident in taxes. Of nearby states and a few others, Arkansas and Iowa had higher values, and Iowa is higher by only one percent. Click for more.