A search of major statewide newspapers from January to April of 2010 shows favored treatment of a Wichita State University pro-sales tax study. A more comprehensive study was done and presented to a House tax committee in January 2010 by Dr. Art Hall of the University of Kansas.
A search for each author’s name was performed in Newsbank. Newsbank has current articles from the Emporia Gazette, the Hays Daily News, the Hutchinson News, the Manhattan Mercury, the Newton Kansan, the Ottawa Herald, the Southwest Daily Times, the Topeka Capital-Journal, and the Wichita Eagle. An additional search was performed for the Kansas City Star (which is headquartered in Kansas City, MO and not included in Kansas searches in Newsbank) and online with the Lawrence Journal-World. (The Journal-World keeps previous news coverage online, unlike other the other newspapers that take down their articles after a certain period of time.)
The search for “Art Hall” returned two relevant articles in 2010, one from the Wichita Eagle and another from the Hutchinson News. These articles covered Hall’s testimony to a Kansas House committee. A third article in the Kansas City Star mentioned Hall’s findings but his study wasn’t the focus of the article. A search of the Star’s and Eagle’s blogs returned no entries.
The search for “John Wong” returned many relevant articles. An April 20 article in the Wichita Eagle outlines the study’s findings, as well as a special blog entry on the 19th. The study was also highlighted in a budget piece in the Eagle’s regular section on the 19th. This was all followed up with a favorable editorial three days later.
Similarly, an April 20 article in the Hutchinson News highlights the pro-tax study, as well as an article in the Kansas City Star. The Lawrence Journal-World had an article online devoted to the study, however a search of ljworld.com revealed no such article for the KU study. The Topeka Capital-Journal also featured the Wong study, with no such balance provided to the Hall study.
Perhaps the slant in coverage is due to the study’s findings, or even it’s timing. It’s certainly too bad that the Kansas media can’t be bothered to examine the two studies and detail their differences. At the very least it should be worthwhile to note that the pro-tax study was done in a vacuum and only covers one year, while the KU study takes into account changes in spending habits and long term effects over a six year period.
The tale of these two studies may end up being a sad testimony to the state of the Kansas media rather than how badly a tax hike would be to our state’s economy.