An informed citizenry is an essential element of maintaining a free society. Having a deeper understanding of how legislation impacts education freedom, economic freedom and the constitutional principles of individual liberty and limited government allows citizens to better understand the known and often unknown consequences of legislative issues.
The 2014 Freedom Index is a continuation of a coalition project started in 2012. The 2014 iteration is solely an effort of KPI and has been expanded to also track education freedom, differentiating between legislation that is student-focused and that which is primarily designed for institutional benefit or the adults working in public education. The 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.
Economic freedom and student-focused education are not partisan issues. Indeed, each version of the Kansas Freedom Index has shown that quite clearly. Legislators registered as Republicans represented at least 70 percent of all House members and all Senate members since 2012. Those counts would produce fairly strong results one way or the other if economic freedom was a partisan issue, but instead, the overall score of both chambers was very near neutral. (See Methodology for an explanation)It is not about party affiliations or labels like liberal, moderate or conservative. Rather, it is about a philosophical belief in the role of government. The filters are not ‘D’ and ‘R’, but ‘E,’ ‘L’ and ‘C’. Some citizens have a strong philosophical belief in an Expanding government, while others are grounded in a strong philosophical belief in Limited government. And there are some citizens for whom the primary litmus test is more Circumstantial rather than a strong philosophical belief about the role of government. Government also is the dividing line on education issues. Debates on school choice issues, for example, often come down to whether the interests of individual students or school districts should prevail.
MethodologyLegislative action in the Kansas House and Senate, whether in the form of final action or some of the many important steps along the way, are selected for inclusion in the Kansas Freedom Index based on the impact the proposed legislation has on student-focused education issues, the free market and the constitutional principles of individual liberty and limited government. Selections were included in the Index to provide educational information about broad economic and education issues. The Index is the product of nonpartisan analysis, study, and research; it is not intended to directly or indirectly endorse or oppose any candidate for public office.Each legislator’s vote, or failure to vote, is assigned points from one of two tiers based on the criteria listed below, with points assessed to each legislator based upon his or her vote. A vote in support of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and student-focused education will receive positive points; a vote opposed to those principles will receive negative points. A vote of Present or Not Voting will be awarded zero points.
For example, consider a bill creating a new licensing board that requires dog groomers to pay a small fee and meet state requirements to operate. The Economic Freedom Index would be scored as follows: negative one (-1) for creation of the licensing board and negative one (-1) for creating a new fee; total score assigned would be negative two (-2). A legislator voting against this bill would be awarded positive two (+2) points. Conversely, a legislator voting for the bill would be awarded negative two (-2) points.
A positive cumulative score indicates that a legislator generally supported freedom, while a negative cumulative score indicates that a legislator generally opposed freedom. A score of zero indicates that a legislator was generally neutral on freedom. The cumulative score only pertains to the specific votes included in the Kansas Freedom Index and should not be interpreted otherwise. A different set of issues and/or a different set of circumstances could result in different cumulative scores.
Vote tracking information, bill summaries, etc. were compiled via
Bill Track 50, an independent clearinghouse of legislative data.
Tier 1 – Three points awarded for each applicable criteria which has a major impact on the functioning of student-focused education, free markets or the constitutional principles of individual liberty and limited government.
Tier 2 – One point awarded for each applicable criteria which has an important, but less significant, impact on the functioning of free markets or the constitutional principles of individual liberty, limited government.