www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Gentrify the neighborhood -3/26/2015, 9:38 AM

The value of nurses -3/26/2015, 9:38 AM

Use your head for something other than a hat rack -3/25/2015, 9:50 AM

I've got your back, Ashley Judd -3/25/2015, 9:50 AM

Brownback and school funding -3/24/2015, 10:18 AM

HaysMed leading xeriscaping charge -3/23/2015, 9:42 AM

History lesson for the future -3/22/2015, 2:29 PM

LGBT rights and religious freedom in Utah -3/22/2015, 2:29 PM

Busyness hits Senate -3/21/2015, 2:10 PM

House homework handed out -3/21/2015, 2:10 PM

Kansans piddle while the Ogallala drains -3/20/2015, 10:02 AM

Chicago fray -3/19/2015, 10:03 AM

Like and dislike in these polarizing times -3/18/2015, 10:22 AM

Inspired by cooties? -3/18/2015, 10:21 AM

Life in the fast lane -3/17/2015, 9:11 AM

The GOP's stupid letter -3/17/2015, 9:10 AM

The battle over school finances -3/16/2015, 9:21 AM

Let the Sunshine in -3/16/2015, 9:21 AM

Testing the limits of free speech -3/16/2015, 9:21 AM

School funding not right choice -3/16/2015, 9:21 AM

Red state politics in state, nation -3/15/2015, 4:42 PM

Program at Plainville highlights county efforts -3/15/2015, 4:41 PM

Global warming -3/13/2015, 10:10 AM

Dictionaries are history books -3/13/2015, 10:10 AM

Welcome to Hays -3/12/2015, 10:31 AM

What's fair in the world? -3/12/2015, 10:31 AM

To green or not to green? -3/11/2015, 10:21 AM

Searching. Seizing. Appealing. -3/10/2015, 10:49 AM

Our future is in drought -3/9/2015, 9:20 AM

The perils of a 'Christian America' -3/9/2015, 9:20 AM

What is a meta really for? Just a word? -3/6/2015, 10:08 AM

College campus update -3/6/2015, 10:06 AM

Rounding up all kindergarten parents -3/8/2015, 3:43 PM

The Spirit of 1787 -3/8/2015, 3:43 PM

Raping culture -3/5/2015, 10:46 AM

Attending the Western Farm Show -3/4/2015, 9:22 AM

Farmers and property taxes -3/3/2015, 9:51 AM

What's next after Turnaround Day? -3/3/2015, 9:51 AM

Giuliani, once heroic, now simply foolish -3/2/2015, 9:34 AM

Money: The first primary -3/2/2015, 9:33 AM

Kansas' fate is more tragic than comic -3/1/2015, 12:43 PM

Tweeting -- and setting nation's 'chat agenda' -3/1/2015, 12:43 PM

The cancer of multiculturalism -2/27/2015, 9:14 AM

Supreme Court justice selection -2/27/2015, 9:14 AM

Sentencing reforms make us smarter on crime -2/26/2015, 9:23 AM

Kochs and unions -2/26/2015, 9:23 AM

Agriculture can do the job -2/25/2015, 9:42 AM

Brownback's first date OK -2/24/2015, 8:59 AM

Toward a transhuman future? -2/23/2015, 9:55 AM

Schools still struggle with religion -2/23/2015, 9:55 AM

Sacking the school finance formula -2/22/2015, 5:45 PM

Beheadings and Bill O'Reilly -2/22/2015, 5:45 PM

-2/20/2015, 10:00 AM

Kansas the Fruitcake State -2/20/2015, 9:59 AM

The credit hour is not dead -2/19/2015, 10:13 AM

No gatekeepers -2/19/2015, 10:12 AM

Fire remains vital management tool -2/18/2015, 9:46 AM

Moore stands on the wrong side of history -2/18/2015, 9:46 AM

School board elections -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

Gov. Brownback outlines education allotments -2/16/2015, 9:22 AM

The new 'normal' family? -2/16/2015, 9:22 AM

What's best for education -2/16/2015, 9:22 AM

Tourism sparks Kansas economy -2/16/2015, 9:22 AM

Worry about what's important -2/15/2015, 4:15 PM

You can't make this up, and, well, you shouldn't -2/15/2015, 4:15 PM

Overcriminalization of America -2/13/2015, 12:50 PM

Fairness and justice -2/13/2015, 9:44 AM

Spontaneous order -2/12/2015, 9:45 AM

Out of jail, but not yet free -2/11/2015, 9:54 AM

No eggs for breakfast? -2/11/2015, 9:54 AM

Consequences of your vaccination decision -2/10/2015, 9:11 AM

What's in a name -2/10/2015, 9:11 AM

Mental disability is not a fad -2/9/2015, 9:12 AM

New genes: angels or demons? -2/9/2015, 9:12 AM

'Can't anybody play this game?' -2/8/2015, 4:43 PM

Vaccines, science and the limits of freedom -2/8/2015, 4:43 PM

Tragic school stories -2/6/2015, 10:02 AM

Social Darwinist 'Christianity' -- Chapter 4 -2/6/2015, 10:02 AM

Parasites all around -2/5/2015, 9:45 AM

Bigger dictionaries -2/5/2015, 9:45 AM

Something obscene about civil asset forfeitures -2/4/2015, 10:05 AM

Stop fowl play -2/4/2015, 10:04 AM

Clearly, it's still a mess -2/3/2015, 9:48 AM

The governor's budget -2/2/2015, 9:14 AM

Committee hearings ongoing -2/2/2015, 9:13 AM

Pontiff wrong on freedom of expression -2/2/2015, 9:12 AM

Indiana's 'JustIn' thankfully on the way out -2/2/2015, 9:12 AM

Coming home in an unexpected manner -2/1/2015, 2:17 PM

The myth of the monolith -2/1/2015, 2:17 PM

Defense against demagogues -1/30/2015, 9:44 AM

Owning ideas -1/29/2015, 9:55 AM

Back to the future, locked and loaded -1/28/2015, 9:29 AM

Compromise -- make it happen -1/28/2015, 9:29 AM

Building bills in the Legislature -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Brownback's budget -1/26/2015, 9:59 AM

Committee meetings begin -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Excitement starts at Capitol -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

What's happening with oil prices? -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Synthetic biology, brave new world -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Today's fierce urgency is voter mobilization -1/25/2015, 5:02 PM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

What's really the matter with Kansas

Published on -5/26/2011, 8:57 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

A May 22 story in the Wichita Eagle about the lack of focus on job creation in the just-concluded legislative session provides great insight into the economic stagnation the state has suffered over the last decade.

According to the Kansas Department of Labor, between April 2008 and April 2011, we lost 73,200 private sector jobs (6.5 percent), 500 state government jobs (0.9 percent) and 500 local government jobs (0.3 percent).

Last year, despite warnings from two academic studies that a sales tax increase would cost thousands of jobs, legislators did it anyway -- and sure enough, between July 1 and April 30, we lost 5,000 private sector jobs (seasonally adjusted according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for comparability).

State government employment didn't change over that time frame.

So what was the focus of that lengthy article? The loss of government jobs. Private sector jobs were barely mentioned.

The Eagle article spoke of a large number of state job cuts without mentioning that the majority were vacant positions. But there was no mention of last year's legislative action that destroyed private sector jobs by raising the sales tax so government could spend more money.

That pretty much sums up the job problem in Kansas for the last decade: more concern about protecting government and not much more than lip service for the private sector.

The article painted a dire picture for education but failed to mention that total state spending on K-12 will increase by more than $100 million next year. Mandatory spending increases on school employee retirement benefits, special education and school bond payments prompted a reduction in the starting point of the funding formula (base state aid) but legislators also passed a law allowing districts to make up the difference in base state aid. Districts are allowed to transfer carryover cash balances from a variety of funds for operational purposes -- and all but one district started this year with enough money in those funds to do so. Most, in fact, had more than $1,000 per-pupil in those funds. Districts have the ability to avoid the layoffs mentioned in this article, so why did the author and those interviewed fail to mention it?

There was also no perspective placed on the education jobs that local school boards chose to eliminate. Current employment levels are still considerably higher than just a few years ago. Statewide there are 4.6 percent more teachers than in 2005 and all other school employment is 8.6 percent higher; enrollment is up just 3.1 percent. It's a shame that those people lost their jobs but it would be nice to see just as much concern for the private sector unemployed.

The Rural Opportunity Zones created by the Legislature are a good step forward, but the change that would create more jobs than any other effort -- eventually eliminating the income tax -- was killed in the Senate. They wouldn't even allow it to be discussed. Opponents of eliminating the income tax are very concerned about sustaining government.

Kansas will continue to suffer the economic stagnation we've seen over the last decade until we stop valuing government jobs over private sector jobs. That's what is really the matter with Kansas.

Dave Trabert is president of the Kansas Policy Institute. He is a frequent speaker to business, legislative and civic groups and also does research and writes on fiscal policy and education issues.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos