Cronyism

In Wichita, developer welfare under a cloud

In Wichita, developer welfare under a cloud

A downtown Wichita project receives a small benefit from the city, with no mention of the really big money. Today the Wichita City Council approved a subsidy for a project in downtown Wichita. The city will lend the developer of a project at 303 S. Broadway $620,000 to improve the building's facade. The property must repay this amount through an assessment on its property tax. The benefit to the property is that the city is able to borrow money at a lower interest rate, and this reduces the cost of borrowing for the project. The agenda packet for this item…
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Roger Marshall campaign setting new standards

Roger Marshall campaign setting new standards

Attacks on Tim Huelskamp reveal the worst in political campaigning. When the campaign of Roger Marshall accuses Tim Huelskamp of being in favor of abortion, you know his campaign is spiraling out of control. Either that, or the Marshall campaign is deliberately lying about a politician's record. Beyond this issue, the Marshall campaign and its surrogates are making arguments that simply have no basis in reality. An example is one radio ad, placed by an independent spending group, that uses the term "Washing-Tim." The ad tries to persuade voters that Huelskamp has sold out to the Washington establishment. That is…
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In Sedgwick County, special interest politics on display

In Sedgwick County, special interest politics on display

Campaign finance reports reveal special interest groups working to elect candidates. Their efforts to mold a candidate's thinking appear to be working. Why do people make political campaign contributions? I try to be optimistic. I'm willing to believe that people have sincerely-held beliefs. But when you look under the covers, I find myself in agreement with Lily Tomlin, who quipped "No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up." A few days ago I showed how the campaign finance report for David Dennis, a candidate for Sedgwick County Commission, was full of contributions from people who regularly…
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A look at a David Dennis campaign finance report

A look at a David Dennis campaign finance report

It's interesting to look at campaign finance reports. Following, a few highlights on a report from the David Dennis campaign. He's a candidate for Sedgwick County Commission in the August Republican Party primary election. The report was filed July 25, 2016, covering the period from January 1, 2016 through July 21, 2016. These reports are available online at the Sedgwick County Election Office website. Keith Stevens, $200 A longtime Democrat community activist, always on the side of higher taxes and more government spending. Suzanne F. Ahlstrand, $250 Gary & Cathy Schmitt, $100 Jon E. Rosell, $100 Charlie Chandler, Maria Chandler,…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Confusion about corruption in Wichita, regulation in Wichita, and the lowly pencil

WichitaLiberty.TV: Confusion about corruption in Wichita, regulation in Wichita, and the lowly pencil

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Citizen activists were concerned about unleashing a corrupting influence in Wichita City Hall, but they didn’t know it’s already there. Then, the regulatory landscape in Wichita. Finally, what can a pencil teach us about how the world works? View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 121, broadcast June 12, 2016. Shownotes Wichita city council campaign finance reform Regulation in Wichita, a ‘labyrinth of city processes’ I pencil, the movie
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In Wichita, more sales tax hypocrisy

In Wichita, more sales tax hypocrisy

Another Wichita company that paid to persuade you to vote for higher taxes now seeks to avoid paying those taxes. Next week the Wichita City Council will consider issuing industrial revenue bonds to benefit a local company. In Kansas, IRBs are not a loan of money from government. Instead, the bonds are a vehicle for conveying property tax abatements, and often sales tax exemptions. [1. Weeks, Bob. Industrial revenue bonds in Kansas. Available at wichitaliberty.org/kansas-government/industrial-revenue-bonds-kansas/.] The applicant company is Hijos, LLC/JR Custom Metal Products, Inc. City documents give the value of abated taxes at $44,900 for the first year. Following…
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Kansas economic development programs

Kansas economic development programs

Explaining common economic development programs in Kansas. TIF projects: Some background Tax increment financing disrupts the usual flow of tax dollars, routing funds away from cash-strapped cities, counties, and schools back to the TIF-financed development. TIF creates distortions in the way cities develop, and researchers find that the use of TIF means lower economic growth. Click here. Tax increment financing (TIF) resources Resources on tax increment financing (TIF) districts. Click here. STAR bonds in Kansas The Kansas STAR bonds program provides a mechanism for spending by autopilot, without specific appropriation by the legislature. Click here. Industrial Revenue Bonds in Kansas…
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Sales tax revenue and the Kansas highway fund

Sales tax revenue and the Kansas highway fund

The effect of a proposed bill to end transfer of Kansas sales tax revenue to the highway fund is distorted by promoters of taxation and spending. The bill is SB 463. The bill's fiscal note tells how this bill, if passed, would affect the highway fund: "Beginning in FY 2018, the percentage of state sales tax and compensating use tax distributed to the [State Highway Fund] would be eliminated." The fiscal note goes on to estimate that the highway fund would receive $553.4 million less sales tax revenue than it would otherwise in fiscal year 2018. (This bill proposed changes…
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Small and weak government?

Small and weak government?

Do corporations prefer the marketplace or a large and powerful government? A letter in the Wichita Eagle criticized the marketplace and the power that corporations purportedly hold over it. (Government needed, February 28, 2016). This letter refers to an op-ed by Charles Koch (Charles G. Koch: Sanders and I agree on a few issues, February 19, 2016, originally published in the Washington Post) A few remarks: The letter-writer states: "It was also no surprise to read that his solution is very small and weak government." Reading the Koch op-ed to which the letter-writer refers, I didn't see a call for…
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Kansas highway spending

Kansas highway spending

An op-ed by an advocate for more highway spending in Kansas needs context and correction. An op-ed in the Wichita Eagle by Bob Totten, executive vice president of the Kansas Contractors Association, makes the case for more spending on Kansas roads and highways. (Bob Totten: State’s road and bridge work is underfunded, February 25, 2016) Besides lamenting the purportedly poor condition of Kansas roads and bridges, Totten mentions -- frequently -- the diversion of money from the highway fund to the general fund. While opinions may differ on the wisdom of KDOT borrowing money by selling long-term bonds and transferring…
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