A survey of Kansas voters conducted on behalf of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce found widespread support for cutting spending rather than raising taxes as the way to balance the Kansas budget. Support was also found for cutting state worker salaries, or reducing the number of state employees.
The survey was conducted on April 21 and 25 by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates, Inc. of Oklahoma City. 500 registered voters participated. The survey margin of error is given as 4.3 percent. The company says respondents were balanced for geographic region, gender, and partisan registration.
One question asked respondents’ opinion of the general course of the state: “Generally speaking, do you think that things in Kansas are going in the right direction or do you think that things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?” 31 percent responded “right track,” while 47 percent said “wrong track” with the remainder undecided.
As a point of comparison, a recent Rasmussen poll asked a similar question of voters across the country. 71 percent said the country is heading down the wrong track, with 21 percent saying the country is headed in the right direction.
When presented with the fact that Kansas is faced with a $500 million budget shortfall, 13 percent said the state should raise taxes, 69 percent said to cut spending, and 18 percent were undecided among these options.
The survey found widespread support for cutting spending across demographic groups. Among self-identified liberals, 56 percent said to cut spending, with 27 percent wanting to raise taxes. Of those in homes with less than $40,000 income, 75 percent said cut spending, with nine percent in favor of raising taxes. For respondents who favored reelecting President Barack Obama, cutting spending was favored by 48 percent, with only 28 percent of those in favor of tax increases. For those who disapprove of the job Governor Sam Brownback is doing, the numbers were similar, with spending cuts favored 43 percent to 33 percent wanting tax hikes.
The issue of possible pay cuts for state employees has been considered by the Legislature and has been in the news. The survey asked this question with the following results:
It has been discussed that state employees may be forced to take a pay cut in order to balance the budget. Which of the following best describes how you think the state deal with this situation? State emp. salaries should not be cut 13% State emp. salaries should be cut up to 3% 17% State emp. salaries should be cut 3 to 5% 16% State emp. salaries should be cut 5 to 10% 3% State emp. salaries should be cut more than 10% 2% Instead of cutting salaries, we should cut the number of state employees 31% Undecided (vol.) 18%
In its analysis of the responses to this question, Cole Hargrave wrote “Kansas voters also demonstrate a desire to make real cuts and are not just reacting with an anti-tax sentiment. When asked about how much the salaries of state employees should be cut, only 13% said they should not be cut. Most remarkable is that 31% of voters said that instead of cutting salaries, the total number of state employees should be reduced. Fully 67% of Kansas voters support either elimination of employee positions are at least a 3% cut.”
The governor’s budget calls for not filling some 2,000 vacant state jobs.
The survey also asked about attitudes toward state government competing with private sector provision of a service when the private sector is doing a good job. 73 percent of respondents agreed strongly or somewhat that the state should not compete, with 12 percent disagreeing and 16 percent undecided. The survey did not provide respondents with an example of a competitive situation.
Respondents showed disapproval of the job President Obama is doing, with 28 percent favoring his reelection, and 57 percent desiring someone else to be elected. Governor Brownback fared better, with 49 percent approving to some degree the job he has been doing. 21 percent disapproved to some degree, with 29 percent undecided.