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"Swanson regards the government for which he works as 'a greedy piglet that suckles on a taxpayer’s teat until they have sore, chapped nipples...'"http://www.nationalreview.com/article/392713/hayekian-hoosier-charles-c-w-cooke


Charles C. W. Cooke - The Hayekian Hoosier
www.nationalreview.com
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the November 3, 2014, issue of National Review. However talented he may be, no writer will ever be safe from his audience, for it is they who will eventually pronounce upon his meaning. Ray Bradbury once stormed indignantly out of a class at UCLA a…
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"Much has been made of the revenue decline as marginal tax rates were reduced but total tax revenue is still running ahead of inflation over the last ten years." http://kansaspolicy.org/KPIBlog/123094.aspx
Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:53:11 +0000
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New public opinion survey shows stunning lack of understanding of K-12 finance - 7% of Kansans know how much is spent per-pupil.

"The number of Kansans who can correctly answer this question remains disturbingly low, but knowing how frequently funding is misrepresented by education officials and special interests, it's not surprising. Instead of trying to low-ball school funding to justify increased aid, the focus should be on improving outcomes."

http://kansaspolicy.org/SurveyUSAPolling/


SurveyUSA Polling
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Posted by Dave Trabert on Wednesday, April 25, 2012
School districts, and now newspaper editorials, see today's KC Star, only want to talk about base state aid when it comes to discussions about K-12 finance in Kansas. However, base state aid is only about 30% of this year's estimated total funding.

Here are some facts that are conveniently ignored in too many discussions of school funding. Every fact below comes from the Kansas Dept. Of Education; Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis provided the 2012 estimates to KPI last November.

Total spending in 2012 is predicted to be $5.672 billion and set a record. State aid is set to account for $3.157 billion, at $6,931 per-pupil. That is more than double base state aid.

While there have been recent declines in state aid, they have been grossly overstated. 2012 aid is only 4% below the 2009 peak but is 34% higher than in 2005.

A good portion of these increases have gone directly to Instructional spending, as defined by the state. In fact, that number has increased 87% between 1999 and 2011 and more than double the combined rates of inflation (32%) and FTE enrollment (1%).

At the same time spending has increased, current operating cash reserves (excluding capital outlay, federal and bond payment funds) have increased to a record-high $868 million at the beginning of this year. That’s 90% more than was in those accounts in 2005. The balances increased more than $400 million as state and local tax dollars were not spent.

Some level of reserves is appropriate, but districts had no cash flow problems when they had $500 million in reserves. They could and should spend some of that money left over from prior years while still operating responsibly.

If the Senate gets their way and spends $74 million it would reduce the State’s ending balance. How is it logical for the State to spend reserves but not school districts, especially since districts' reserves are far greater than the State's?

The Senate plan is not logical...or prudent. It is political.
Posted by Dave Trabert on Sunday, April 22, 2012

Last Wednesday, April 18, the Wichita Eagle editorial page made an outrageously false claim about Kansas Policy Institute, saying we were 'playing fast and loose with the truth.  Our crime?  We have a fact-based opinion with which they disagree!

We asked for an immediate meeting to make our case and request a retraction, but the Opinion Page Editor, Phillip Brownlee, said he wasn't available until next week but didn't believe a meeting was really necessary, saying "It's just that The Eagle editorial board (and the Kansas Dept. of Ed, school districts and many other observers) thinks the ads are misleading. Even your last piece to us was misleading, implying that the state had lowered its standards because the cut scores had changed and its terms (proficient, satisfactory) had changed. The cut scores changed because the test changed, not because the standards were lowered. And the terms changed in order to match the NCLB terminology (again, it didn't lower standards)."

The Eagle editorial board, KSDE, local districts and others don't like the ads because they disclosed that proficiency does not require full comprehension of grade-appropriate material.  There is nothing whatsoever misleading about stating that fact.  The 'misleading' part is that parents hadn't been told that standards were that low or that they had been reduced.

Our last piece to the Eagle didn't 'imply' that standards were reduced in 2006, it stated it for a fact based on documents we acquired from the Kansas Department of Education.  According to the Kansas Assessments in Reading and Mathematics 2000 Techical Manual, the five assessment categories were once (highest to lowest) Advanced, Proficient, Satisfactory, Basic and Unsatisfactory; at some point between 2000 and 2006 (when the cut scores were changed) they were changed to Exemplary, Exceeds Standard, Meets Standard, Approaches Standard and Academic Warning.

As explained in this full-page ad we ran in the Eagle on Sunday, April 22 (yes, we had to spend a lot of money to get the truth in front of Eagle readers), the former categories of Proficient and Satisfactory were combined into a single category now called Meets Standard.  (As KSDE says, "...a proficient student has satisfactory comprehension....").  A student formerly had to fall into one of the top two categories to be proficient, but now only has to be in the top three categories.  

The KNEA (teachers' union) likens the current definition of Meets Standard to a 'C.'  If they are consistent in their logic, they must also believe that a student previously had to earn a 'B' to be considered proficient.

KSDE lowered the cut scores in 2006 - the minimum percentage of correct answers required for inclusion in each category.  Some people believe lower cut scores are not necessarily indicative of lower standards (arguing that the test could have been made infinitely harder) but there is nothing in the KSDE Technical Manual that says so. Proficiency under the 2000 standards required having at least 87% correct answers; now it is as low as 63%.

But even if you discount the change in cut scores, there is no denying that the U.S. Department of Education says Kansas has some of the lowest standards in the country.  They say Kansas' 4th grade Reading standard is lower than 40 other states; the 8th grade standard is lower than 35 other states.  

If that's not enough proof, there's more.

That same KSDE 2006 Technical Manual says the standards were changed to such extent that no comparisons to prior years' achievement results should be made.  (Sometimes it's important to note what people don't say; we find no place where they say the standards were made more difficult in 2006, yet no comparisons to prior years should be made.  If standards were essentially the same, comparisons would be OK...but if they were lowered....)

Of course, written policy saying comparisons to prior years results should not be made does not stop KSDE and local districts from doing it anyway.  (Imagine what editorial writers would say about KPI if we did something like that.)  

Who do you think is 'playing fast and loose with the truth'?

 
Posted by Todd Davidson on Friday, April 20, 2012
Capitalism is the most amazing vehicle for social cooperation that has ever existed. And that’s the story we need to tell… to show that it’s about creating shared value, not for the few, but for everyone.

~John Mackey, Co-Founder of Whole Foods Market

Cooperation is as much a part of capitalism as competition.  Both are essential elements of the simple system of natural liberty, and most of us spend far more of our time cooperating with partners, coworkers, suppliers, and customers than we do competing.

~David Boaz Executive Vice-President of the Cato Institute

The earth by these labours of mankind has been obliged to redouble her natural fertility, and to maintain a greater multitude of inhabitants.

~Adam Smith

Tom Palmer, editor of "The Morality of Capitalism," will be making the moral case for capitalism at a free reception and lecture that is open to the public in Overland Park on 15 May and in Wichita of 16 May. Event details are below and be sure to check out the video for more information.

Overland Park - 15 May 2012
When: 5:30 p.m. reception and 6:30 p.m. lecture
Where: Overland Park Sheraton - 6100 College Blvd.
RSVP HERE, via e-mail at events@kansaspolicy.org, or by calling 316.634.0218

Wichita - 16 May 2012
When: 5:30 p.m. reception and 6:30 p.m. lecture
Where: Hyatt Regency Downtown - 400 W. Waterman
RSVP HERE, via e-mail at events@kansaspolicy.org, or by calling 316.634.0218

Posted by Todd Davidson on Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This week Wichita Downtown Development Corp. (WDDC) is hosting workshops to foster grassroots community engagement for downtown Wichita.  During these workshops participants will be given an imaginary $500 to make Wichita a “better more interesting place,” which begs the question will any group reward the people already working hard to make Wichita an interesting place?

My first thought is to donate $500 to the unfortunate tornado victims.

logoIf it were not for Saturday’s storms I would first use the money to treat the office to authentic Mexican cuisine at Angela’s Café on the corner of E Central and N Mosley ($50).

On my way home I’d stop by Yoder Meats to buy some award winning smoked meats and cheeses.  Next door at the Seafood Shop I’d pick up some fresh lobster tail, ($100, yes you can get fresh seafood in land locked Wichita)!

To go with my surf and turf dinner logoI’d buy a bottle of Grace Hill Winery’s fine Cabernet Franc, made from grapes grown right here in Kansas ($24).  Then travel up northwest to the Wichita Brewing Company to purchase a growler of their handcrafted Half-Wit Wheat ($16).

All this driving around would surely wear down my tires, fortunately Wichita is home to Tracy’s Automotive, where I can receive a much needed tune-up and new set of tires ($250).

logoWhile waiting on my new tires I would enjoy some live music as I chow down on a delectable Maple Bacon donut at the Donut Whole ($10).

Luckily Safe Riders could drive me to the Shockers game where I can enjoy the 70 and sunny weather with friends ($50).

Wichita is home to an “interesting” community; let’s stop implying that our hard working businesses are boring and start rewarding the individuals that have been here making this community great.

Posted by Todd Davidson on Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Wichita Metro Area February employment numbers, small gains are a positive step, but yet again we see public sector employment growth outpacing the private sector.  One month is nothing to fret over but a 13 year trend can be telling, as this can only mean higher taxes on a struggling private sector.

Since 1998 the Wichita Metro Area has seen all levels government grow and grow, while private sector employment has often failed to stay above water.  The chart below indexes Wichita Metro Area employment growth in the private sector and levels of government, (any value below 100 means employment is lower than 1998 levels).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Wichita private sector employment peaked in 2008 at 267,000, but has since lost 24,500 jobs. Only 4 of the 13 years since 1998 has Wichita employed more private sector workers than in 1998. 

All local gov't in the metro area fared better, each year setting a new record level of public employment, until shaving a few workers in 2011.

In 1998 there were 10.35 private sector employees supporting 1 local public sector employee, by 2011 that number decreased to 8.45.  Meaning a heftier tax burden must be carried by each private sector employee to support the growing local public sector.

Posted by James Franko on Thursday, April 05, 2012

This post is courtesy of Bob Weeks and his Voice for Liberty in Wichita blog, where the piece originally appeared.

Recently Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and U.S. Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas made the case for extending the production tax credit (PTC) for the production of electrical power by wind.

The PTC pays generators of wind power 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour produced, a high rate of subsidy for a product that sells for 9.5 cents, according to a March 2010 illustration provided by Westar.

Brownback and Moran contend that this tax credit is necessary to let the industry "complete its transformation from being a high tech startup to becoming cost competitive in the energy marketplace." But wind is not a new industry. The PTC has been in place for twenty years. If an industry can't get established in that period, when will it be ready to stand in its own?

The authors also contend that canceling the PTC will result in a "tax hike on wind energy companies." To some extent this is true -- but only because the industry has enjoyed preferential tax treatment that it should never have received.The proper way to view the PTC is as a government spending program in disguise. That's the true economic effect of tax credits. They are equivalent to grants of money.

Amazingly, Brownback and Moran do not realize this -- at least if we take them at their written word as they describe the PTC: "These are not cash handouts; they are reductions in taxes that help cover the cost of doing business." (Emphasis added.)

It is the mixing of spending programs with taxation that leads these politicians to wrongly claim that tax credits are not cash handouts. But not everyone falls for this seductive trap. In an article in Cato Institute's Regulation magazine, Edward D. Kleinbard explains:

Specialists term these synthetic government spending programs "tax expenditures." Tax expenditures are really spending programs, not tax rollbacks, because the missing tax revenues must be financed by more taxes on somebody else. ... Tax expenditures dissolve the boundaries between government revenues and government spending. They reduce both the coherence of the tax law and our ability to conceptualize the very size and activities of our government. (The Hidden Hand of Government Spending, Fall 2010.)

U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita recognized the cost of paying for tax credit expenditures when he recently wrote: "Moreover, what about the jobs lost because everyone else's taxes went up to pay for the subsidy and to pay for the high utility bills from wind-powered energy? There will be no ribbon-cuttings for those out-of-work families."

This is an example of the seen and unseen, and also of the problem of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs. Politicians hope we won't notice.

When Brownback and Moran write of the loss of income to those who profit from wind power, we should remember that these profits do not arise from transactions between willing partners. Instead, they result from politicians who override the judgment of free people and free markets with their own political preferences -- along with looking out for the parochial interests of the home state. We need less of this type of wind power.

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