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AFP-Kansas Update on Wichita Protest Petition Fight for Taxpayers

October 21, 2011

Recently AFP-Kansas helped launch a protest petition effort regarding the Ambassador Hotel and Douglas Place Project in downtown Wichita. The project utilizes a long list of government subsidies that include: tax increment financing (TIF), community improvement district special sales tax (CID), state and federal historic preservation tax credits, and a refund of 75% of the transient guest tax applied at the hotel.

The Wichita City Council passed a charter ordinance allowing the refund of the guest tax, thus providing for the charter ordinance to be put to the vote of the people, provided enough qualified signatures are collected from registered voters in Wichita. Because this is the only part of the project’s financing obtained from passing a charter ordinance, the protest petition effort is specific to the transient guest tax component.

AFP has long opposed government picking winners and losers in the marketplace but rarely can citizens vote specifically on these types of public incentive packages, which led to our decision to help launch a protest petition effort. (The signature gathering effort began on Oct. 7 and involves AFP, Kansans for Liberty and other Wichita area groups.)

But the question is often asked, why are we protesting the guest tax? In short, AFP believes that revenue generated from a public tax should not be refunded to a private entity. We oppose public taxation for private enrichment and any other policy in which government picks winners and losers.

These foolish projects have attracted scrutiny outside of Kansas from scholars like Randal O’Toole, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and author of “The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future.” He visited Wichita last year to check out some of the city’s prime examples of government planning and taxpayer subsidy.

But Wichita is certainly not alone in approving public incentive packages; it’s done routinely at all government levels. State governments including Kansas continue to put together taxpayer-funded packages in the name of economic development. These packages often make for great headlines but at the same time violate true, free-market principles and ultimately benefit only a select few. The focus should instead be on addressing our tax and regulatory structures and implementing reforms that will provide a better atmosphere for economic growth for all.

Implementing tax reform will be a significant issue in Kansas going into next year. AFP looks forward to reviewing the various tax reform recommendations and will continue to support eliminating the income tax in Kansas. The Kansas House of Representatives passed repeal of the income tax during the last legislative session and we hope the Senate finishes the job. Eliminating the income tax will help place our state on a road to economic growth and prosperity.

Passing comprehensive tax reform will make it much more difficult for our state and local governments to play games and provide handouts through the tax code. In the meantime, the people of Wichita need to remain vigilant and continue to voice support for free markets and AFP’s petition against taxpayer subsidies.

Helpful links:

* dtwichita.com
* wichitaliberty.org
* www.cato.org

5th Annual Defending the American Dream Summit

AFP Foundation’s 5th annual Defending the American Dream Summit is just a few weeks away — Nov. 4-5 at the DC Convention Center in Washington, DC.

America is at a critical turning point and the future of our nation hangs in the balance of the decisions Congress is making today. Join America’s foremost free-market voices, top experts on grassroots mobilization, and the nation’s largest gathering of grassroots leaders from across the country in a massive demonstration in support of limited government and free enterprise.

We must join to together to ensure prosperity for our children and grandchildren.

Confirmed speakers include: Judge Andrew Napolitano, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Dinesh D’Souza, Herman Cain, Mark Levin, Jonah Goldberg, Andrew Breitbart, John Fund, Grover Norquist, Ann McElhinney, Tim Phillips, and Phil Kerpen.

Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo will be featured as a speaker for one of the break-out sessions.

AFP-Kansas is offering free registration for Kansas attendees. Contact us for details.

Register online today!

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