Kansas Speaks Survey Shows Low Opinion of State Tax Policy

HAYS, Kan. — Sixty-one percent of respondents to the 2015 Kansas Speaks survey of public opinion in Kansas think that Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax policy has been a “failure” or a “tremendous failure” in terms of economic growth.

“Neither success nor failure” was the opinion of 32 percent, 7 percent said it was at least “a success,” and only 0.2 percent said it was “a tremendous success.”

Kansas Speaks 2015 is the seventh in the series of annual surveys conducted by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University.

About three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents to the 2015 Kansas Speaks survey of public opinion in Kansas still think Kansas is at least a “good” place to live, a number that is down almost 10 percent from a year ago, when 85 percent thought Kansas was at least a “good” place to live.

Meanwhile, the “poor” or “very poor” opinion was up slightly, to 5 percent in 2015 over 3 percent in 2014.

More than a third (37 percent) rated the Kansas economy as at least “good,” 38 percent said the economy is “fair,” and 26 percent rated the economy as “poor” or “very poor.” The rating was lower among Democrats and those leaning Democrat.

Over half of respondents, 51 percent, were at least “moderately concerned” that the Kansas economy would seriously threaten their or their family’s welfare over the next year, 27 percent were “slightly concerned,” and 23 percent were “not concerned at all.” Female respondents were more concerned than males, and concern was also high among respondents with lower household incomes. Overall, however, respondents were less concerned in 2015 than they have been since 2009.

The Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University conducted the 2015 Kansas Speaks survey from Sept. 14 to Oct. 5. A random sample of adult residents of Kansas age 18 and older was surveyed by telephone to assess their attitudes and opinions regarding various issues of interest to Kansas citizens.

A total of 1,252 Kansas residents were contacted; 638 completed the survey, a 50.9-percent response rate. The margin of error was 4.1 percent at a 95-percent confidence level.

Full results of this year’s Kansas Speaks were released Sunday, Oct. 25, in tabloid inserts in The Hays Daily News, The Wichita Eagle and The Topeka Capital-Journal. The full report, in pdf form, is available through the Kansas Speaks link on the page at www.fhsu.edu/docking.

Some other findings in the 2015 survey:

• Asked who they would vote for in the next presidential election, 18 percent said Donald Trump, 11 percent said Hillary Clinton, 11 percent said Ben Carson, and 8 percent said Marco Rubio. Forty percent did not know who they would vote for.

• Almost half (47 percent) of respondents supported allowing same-sex couples to be legally married and have the full rights of heterosexual couples, 21 percent favored civil union that would give same-sex couples full spousal rights, but not marriage, and 32 percent opposed same-sex marriage in any way.

• Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act was supported “strongly” or “somewhat” by 62 percent; 38 percent “somewhat” or “strongly” opposed expansion.

• Allowing firearms on college campuses in Kansas except by security personnel was opposed by 58 percent, 26 percent favored allowing certain restrictions from colleges on the open and concealed carry of firearms, and 16 percent supported allowing open and concealed carry on college campuses.

• Fifty-six percent said the school funding system change resulted in them paying higher taxes and fees.

• Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents said the state block grant system resulted in a lower quality of education for public school children in their school districts.

• On immigration, 53 percent supported “a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants with no criminal record,” 13 percent thought some undocumented immigrants should be deported, 7 percent supported “deporting most undocumented immigrants,” and 27 percent support “deporting all undocumented immigrants.”

• A little more than half (51 percent) of respondents said that a private business owner should have to provide the same services to same-sex couples as they provide to heterosexual couples.

• Respondents expressed high levels of satisfaction with their state senators, representatives and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, with more than 40 percent of them being “very” or “somewhat satisfied.” Twenty-eight percent of respondents were “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with President Obama, and 18 percent were “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with Gov. Sam Brownback.

• More than half of respondents did not know the name of their state representatives or senators.

• More than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents said taxes on large corporations should be increased. Only 9 percent felt they should be decreased. Democrats and those leaning Democrat were more likely to feel taxes on large corporations should increase.