Opinion Columns & Blogs

Are rural opportunity zones effective?

Gov. Sam Brownback pushed the Legislature to approve rural opportunity zones to encourage people to move to rural Kansas counties, but some lawmakers are questioning the effectiveness of the program, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The zones offer two incentives: student loan forgiveness and income tax waivers for up to five years. The Kansas Department of Commerce told lawmakers last spring that 35 counties had seen improvements in their average population since the program began in 2011. But Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, said the program, which costs about $1.75 million a year, is doing very little. “It only brings in two humans per county per year,” he said, adding that “politically, it’s a 10. Reality, it’s a one.” – Phillip Brownlee