As activity wraps up for the week under the dome, next week promises to turn up the figurative volume yet again. Monday will arrive soon enough. In the meantime, we thought it may be good to review some insight we’ve gained into the opinions some Kansans have shared with us regarding legislative activity thus far.
Let us start by looking back a few months. As reflected in the October 2015 “Kansas Speaks” statewide public opinion survey prepared by The Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University, Governor Brownback’s 18% satisfaction rating was historically low. The report offered some additional insight into some of the contentious issues we’re facing today. As printed in the Lawrence Journal World (October 25, 2015), 61% of Kansans favored expanding Medicaid, 84% opposed requiring colleges and universities to allow firearms on campus and 82% were skeptical that voter fraud is a problem in Kansas. Strikingly, 61% of Kansans believe the Governor’s tax policies have been either a “failure” or a “tremendous failure.” The “Kansas Speaks” survey is considered a statistically valid survey, but how accurate was it as a predictor of public opinion moving into the 2016 legislative session? Apparently, a very strong predictor indeed.
Recently KNEA conducted two statewide opinion polls. While these polls were not scientific, they clearly reflected opinions on two topics. The first asked respondents to weigh in on school consolidation. The second polled Kansans about their opinions on expanding corporate and individual tax credits (VOUCHERS) to private schools (even unaccredited ones). Respondent duplicates were filtered from both polls eliminating any responses that appeared to be inflating the results. The polls were distributed on a wide variety of public channels. The following Google generated “heat map” reflects response rates statewide during a 12 hour period:
The results of our school consolidation poll netted nearly 5,000 unique submissions across Kansas. Overall, the poll indicated that almost 93% of respondents oppose school consolidation. This aligns with a quick analysis of proponent vs. opponent testimony on the school consolidation bill where opponents outnumbered proponents by a wide margin (see this report from the Topeka Capital Journal).
Expanding tax credits for corporations and individuals to send students to private schools was no more popular with the citizens of Kansas who responded to the poll. The following results reflect submissions received within the first 12 hours of polling.
Certainly, everybody has strong opinions about the ongoing policy attacks on public education in Kansas. Some support these efforts, but increasingly it is clear that most oppose them. We encourage you to remain engaged and watch for new polling next week. Two recent editorials published in the Kansas City Star confirm that Kansans have had enough of mean-spirited, special-interest policy attacks on public education. We know that many legislators who represent the majority in the statehouse seem to simply ignore the public. The question many are asking is, will you forget next fall when the opportunity to change the direction of the Kansas Legislature will be upon us once again?
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