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Economic opportunity in Kansas is focus of upcoming conference

Friday, October 16, 2015

LAWRENCE — The widening income gap between the wealthiest and the poorest Americans has become an issue of growing concern for economists, educators and policymakers nationwide. The local and regional perspective on this national debate will be showcased at the University of Kansas on Thursday, Oct. 22, when the annual Kansas Economic Policy Conference addresses “Economic Opportunity in Kansas: What Does the Future Hold?”

“Economic growth relies on providing economic opportunity to all Kansans,” said Donna Ginther, KU economics professor. “This conference brings together a mix of perspectives from experts in several fields to discuss how economic opportunity is shaped by our schools, workplaces and communities statewide. It also gives the public a chance to ask these experts tough questions about difficult issues.”

The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Kansas Union and concludes at 2 p.m. It is sponsored by the Institute for Policy & Social Research at KU, where Ginther serves as director of the Center for Science, Technology & Economic Policy. The full agenda of sessions is available online. Registration is open.

Kenneth Kriz, Regents Distinguished Professor of Public Finance at Wichita State University and director of its Kansas Public Finance Center, and Gary Brunk, executive director of the Kansas Association of Community Action Programs, will open the conference with presentations on the state of the economy and economic opportunity in Kansas.

A conversation about policy and economic opportunity in Kansas from a variety of perspectives will follow. Featured speakers include Patricia Clark, state director of Kansas Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO, Kansas Action for Children; Shawna Chapman, senior analyst, Kansas Health Institute; Sen. Jim Denning, Kansas Senate District 8, Overland Park; and Rep. Melissa Rooker, Kansas House District 25, Fairway. These conversations will be hosted by Jim McLean, executive editor, Kansas Health Institute News Service.

The conference will conclude with a luncheon panel on economic inequality and economic growth in the U.S. Panelists will be J. Bradford DeLong, professor of economics, University of California, Berkeley, and a staff member with the Washington Center for Equitable Growth; and Timothy Kane, research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Ginther will moderate the luncheon session.

Registration for the conference is $55 at the conference website and includes luncheon.  A live online stream will be available at no cost for persons located in portions of central and western Kansas.  Free registration for online access is also available at the website.

The Kansas Economic Policy Conference is co-sponsored by the KU Office of the Provost and the Kansas Health Institute.