Tax day discussion of Kansas' tax cuts. Looks like the economic outlook is improving.

Rich States, Poor States: Kansas 15th Best Economic Outlook
The 2014 edition of Rich States, Poor States released today ranks Kansas at #15 for Economic Outlook and #32 for Economic Performance.  Economic Outlook is a forward-looking forecast based on each state’s standing in 15 important state polic
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:50:48 +0000
"a need for charter schools to help them escape that cycle of failure and dropout."

Real Charters Schools Needed in Kansas
A failed charter school and someone looking to start a charter school in Kansas can only look to Kansas City, MO and wonder what impact high-performing publi...
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 18:55:40 +0000
"An economic system that simply doles out favors to established stakeholders becomes less dynamic and makes job growth less likely."

Want to hear more like this? Click the link in the first comment to hear Jonah Goldberg in person later this month in Overland Park.

Jonah Goldberg - Pro-Business or Pro-Market
The GOP can’t have it both ways anymore.
Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:47:16 +0000
Last Refreshed 4/23/2014 5:09:30 AM
Significant reform needed in KPERS

The newly formed Kansas Public Employees Retirement System Study Commission faces a daunting task. The most recent valuation report reveals unfunded liabilities have increased to $8.3 billion and the funding ratio fell to 62 percent, placing KPERS amongst the country’s most underfunded plans.

Still, the liability is actually much worse than reported, perhaps as high as $15 billion. KPERS assumes an 8 percent annual return on investments and acknowledges that may be optimistic. Financial experts argue government pension plans should estimate liabilities like private sector plans and use a rate that reflects the market risk inherent in those liabilities.

A recent study by finance professors from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University estimates state pension liabilities using real Treasury yields to calculate the funding required to pay off liabilities over 30 years. Their study puts the price of not reforming KPERS at either an 11.7 percent tax increase, an 11.7 percent funding reduction for schools, social services and other government functions or some combination of the two.

Clearly, major reform is needed.

Many options exist to reduce benefits and still provide a more lucrative retirement plan than most taxpayers receive. The current defined benefit plan allows someone with 35 years’ service and final average salary of $50,000 to retire with about the same take-home pay, including Social Security. A defined contribution 401(k) plan should be created for new hires. Benefits for those still working can be modified, the early retirement age can be increased and other oddities can be eliminated, such as “double-dipping,” buying discounted service credits and the special treatment afforded legislators.

Kansas is already suffering economic stagnation and job loss from a growing tax burden. Indeed, Kansas is the only state whose 2011 average annual private sector employment level is lower than 2010. State and local taxes increased at nearly twice the level of inflation over the past 10 years, and that doesn’t include the full impact of the sales tax increase. There simply is no room for another straw on the camel’s back.

Another year like 2008 would create a high probability that underfunded pension plans such as KPERS will eventually default on their obligations.

Political pressure to protect these lucrative, unsustainable benefits will be intense, but the choice is crystal clear — enact major pension reform or pick between double-digit funding cuts or job-killing tax increases.

With all of this in mind, we hope the KPERS Study Commission chooses wisely.

View full article at The Topeka Capital Journal. Click here
View full article at The Hays Daily News. Click here