Voice For Liberty
Individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas.
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By virtue of exchange, one man's prosperity is beneficial to all others.
-- Frederic Bastiat

There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.
-- James Madison

I know of no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution.
-- Ulysses S. Grant

The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
-- Mark Twain
Wichita jobs and employment, September 2019
For the Wichita metropolitan area in September 2019, the labor force is up, the number of unemployed persons is down, the unemployment rate is down, and the number of people working is up when compared to the same month one year ago. Seasonal data shows small increases in labor force and jobs from August.
The cause of the low unemployment rate in Wichita
The unemployment rate for Wichita and the nation is nearly equal over the last eight years. Job growth for Wichita, however, has been much slower than the nation, and the labor force for Wichita is actually smaller than in January 2011. This is what has led to a low unemployment rate in Wichita: Slow job growth paired with a declining labor force.
Questions for Mayor Jeff Longwell
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell urges Wichitans to reach out to him with questions through email and social media. But I haven't received any answers.
Wichita jobs and momentum
Some candidates for local office in Wichita are campaigning on their record while in office, saying Wichita needs to build on its momentum. Given recent data and the CEDBR forecasts, Wichita’s momentum is a slowly growing economy, with the rate of growth declining.
State and local government employees and payroll
Looking at the number of government employees in proportion to population, Kansas has many compared to other states, and especially so in education.
From Pachyderm: Alan Cobb, Kansas Chamber of Commerce
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Alan Cobb, President and Chief Executive officer, Kansas Chamber of Commerce. His topic was “The State of the State Economy: Solutions for Increasing Growth.” This audio presentation or podcast was recorded on October 18, 2019.
Looking at jobs in Wichita
Examining job creation in Wichita as compared to the state and the nation.
From Pachyderm: Dr. Amy Bragg Carey, President of Friends University
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Dr. Amy Bragg Carey, President of Friends University. Her topic was “The Role of Friends University in Our Community.” This audio presentation or podcast was recorded on October 25, 2019.
Checking a Jeff Longwell for Mayor political ad
An advertisement advocating the re-election of Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell contains a claim about economic development that is false.
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Kansas jobs, September 2019
Employment fell and the labor force rose, both by small amounts, in Kansas in September 2019 compared to the prior month. Kansas employment continued a trend of accelerating job growth in recent months and has matched the national rate for year-over-year growth.
The Making of the Wichita Mayor 2019
There are eight major lessons for Wichita voters when they cast their ballots on or before November 5, 2019, concerning the revelations of favoritism involving the mayor, apparently a majority of the city council, and a number of Wichita businesses and businessmen concerning a proposed massive city water plant contract that is close to half a billion dollars, writes Karl Peterjohn.
Wichita water planning in 2014, and now
In 2014 the City of Wichita advised spending millions on a water project, but it wasn't for the main water treatment plant replacement, and it wasn't financed with debt.
Downtown Wichita jobs
Wichita, not that different
We have a lot of neat stuff in Wichita. Other cities do, too.
Medicaid expansion plan would hike cigarette taxes, raise fees
Over the last two days, members of the Senate Select Committee on Healthcare Access noodled on details of a Medicaid expansion plan crafted by Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning. From The Sentinel.
New Symposium Society: Language Matters
From the New Symposium Society: Language Matters.
K-12 Instruction spending allocation hits new low
Local school boards and administrators reduced the share of spending allocated to Instruction last year to a new low of just 51.9%. From Kansas Policy Institute.
NCTQ: Kansas doesn’t evaluate teachers or principals on student performance
A new study from the National Council of Teacher Quality (NCTQ) says Kansas is one of several states that no longer evaluates teachers and principals on student performance. From The Sentinel.
Audit finds state incentives often aren’t used as intended
Less than 20 percent of funds appropriated for state economic development programs are used the way lawmakers originally intended, according to a recent legislative post audit report. From The Sentinel.
Kansas Republicans buck longtime conservative voices
In deciding to forego a presidential caucus or primary, Kansas Republicans act contrary to mainstream conservative thought.
In Wichita, more tax increment financing
The Wichita city council will consider expanding an existing TIF, or tax increment financing district.
From Pachyderm: Wichita City Council Candidates
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club this week: Wichita city council candidates from district 2. This audio presentation or podcast was recorded on October 11, 2019.
United States manufacturing jobs
During the first two years of the Trump administration, United States manufacturing jobs grew at a monthly rate of 15,833 in 2017 and 22,000 in 2018. For 2019, through September, the monthly rate is 4,556.
What the Block 1 amendment says about downtown Wichita
The amending of a retail lease tells us a lot about the economics of downtown Wichita. After years of subsidy, investment, and promotion, downtown Wichita is not doing well. That’s about the only conclusion we can make when we see the city renting nice retail space for nearly zero rent, and doing this not just once, but twice.
The power and influence of the Wichita mayor
When pursuing a large Wichita city contract, did the winning company lobby all council members, or primarily Mayor Jeff Longwell?
Contribute to a campaign, get (nearly) free rent
Citizens may not have noticed that a campaign contributor to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell received a large benefit from the city this week.
City code on ethical conduct in Wichita
Wichita has a city code governing ethical conduct by council members, but it seems to have no teeth.
Wichita jobs and employment, August 2019
For the Wichita metropolitan area in August 2019, the labor force is up, the number of unemployed persons is down, the unemployment rate is down, and the number of people working is up, all by small amounts, when compared to the same month one year ago. Seasonal data shows small increases in labor force and jobs from July.
From Pachyderm: Wichita school board candidates
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club this week: Candidates for the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district. This was recorded October 4, 2019.
Downtown Wichita population
Wichita economic development officials use a convoluted method of estimating the population of downtown Wichita, producing a number much higher than Census Bureau estimates.
Wichita’s mayor steered multi-million-dollar water plant contract to friends
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell steered what could become the largest contract in the city’s history to his political supporters, golf partners and friends, a Wichita Eagle investigation has revealed. From the Wichita Eagle. Click for more.
No, Mayor Longwell: This isn’t the way city business should be done
In just a few weeks, Wichita voters will decide whether to give Longwell another chance and another term as mayor. Given his questionable practices up to now, he doesn’t deserve it, writes the Wichita Eagle editorial board. From the Wichita Eagle. Click for more.
Kansas personal income
For the second quarter of 2019, the rate of personal income growth in Kansas was near the bottom of the states, although the rate was higher than the first quarter. Click for more.
In NAEP mapping study, Kansas shines
In a new edition of a study that assesses the stringency of state school assessments, Kansas performs well. Click for more.
From Pachyderm: Wichita mayoral candidates
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club this week: Wichita mayoral candidates Jeff Longwell and Brandon Whipple. This audio presentation or podcast was recorded on September 27, 2019. Click for more.
From Pachyderm: Wichita City Council Candidates
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club this week: Wichita city council candidates from districts 2 and 5. This audio presentation or podcast was recorded on September 20, 2019. Click for more.
Downtown Wichita jobs decline
Despite heavy promotion and investment in downtown Wichita, the number of jobs continues to decline. Click for more.
Wichita mayoral debate
Details of the Wichita baseball stadium land deal were an issue at the first Wichita mayoral debate. Click for more.
Wichita metro employment by industry
An interactive visualization of Wichita-area employment by industry. Click for more.
Kansas Republicans should have their say
Kansas Republicans should insist on having a voice in choosing the next Republican presidential nominee. Click for more.
Wichita checkbook updated
Wichita spending data presented as a summary, and as a list.

Of note, the city does not make this data available on its website. Click for more.
Campaigning on Wichita as recession-proof
The City of Wichita and Mayor Jeff Longwell shouldn’t be using flimsy evidence that is contrary to actual economic data. Click for more.
Can’t we have a literate mayor?
Mistakes on Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell’s Facebook campaign page are troubling. Click for more.
Record-setting levels of Freedom in Kansas Legislature
From Kansas Policy Institute: The results of our 2019 Kansas Freedom Index show freedom in Kansas is on the march…at least in the Kansas Legislature. The 2019 Kansas Freedom Index set records for high scores with 52 legislators scoring at least 86%. That’s good news. Click for more.
On Wichita water, Longwell is right about one thing
A city hall news event sought to counter a news story that highlighted problems with Wichita’s water supply, but it seemed more like a political campaign event. Click for more.
Wichita property tax rate: Unchanged
The City of Wichita property tax mill levy was unchanged for 2018. This follows two years of small decreases. Click for more.
In Wichita, revision of water history
In 2014 Wichita voters rejected a sales tax which would have provided $250 million to spend on a water project. What were the city’s concerns? Click for more information.
Kansas GDP
In the first quarter of 2019, the Kansas economy grew at the annual rate of 3.1 percent, up from 0.9 percent the previous quarter. The rate of 3.1 percent ranked twentieth among the states and matched the rate for the entire nation. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Airport traffic statistics, 2018
Airport traffic data presented in an interactive visualization, updated through 2018. 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.
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.
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.
Updated: Kansas hotel guest tax collections
Kansas hotel guest tax collections presented in an interactive visualization. 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 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.
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.
Is the Wichita mayor satisfied with this?
A gloomy jobs forecast is greeted with apparent approval by Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell. 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.
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.
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.
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.