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October 30, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: James Franko
Kansans Support Lower Taxes, Lower Spending, More Gov't Efficiency
New SurveyUSA poll IDs fact-based opinions of Kansans
October 30, 2012 - Wichita - Kansas Policy Institute released the results of a statewide public-opinion survey conducted by SurveyUSA, showing that Kansans' responses to basic questions about taxes and spending vary greatly depending upon how well informed they are of the underlying facts. . The survey asked 500 adults questions on state and local taxes, general and education-specific government spending, and government efficiency, with a margin of error of 4.5 percent. SurveyUSA is a national polling firm that is also utilized by KWCH-TV in Wichita and KSHB-TV in Kansas City and conducted this poll between October 23-25, 2012.

KPI president Dave Trabert offered the following remarks today at a press conference announcing the results;

Why KPI conducted the survey: "We conducted a similar survey in 2010 that showed citizens' willingness to pay higher taxes to give more money to schools depended upon whether they were accurately informed on school funding.  As Kansans consider how to deal with the potential fallout from another school lawsuit, pressure to expand Medicaid, ballooning pension deficits and concerns about rising property taxes, we wanted to check again to see how perceptions of the facts influences opinions. Good information is essential to informed opinions and it is clear that when given the facts, Kansans offer much different responses than what is typically reported from overly-simplistic public surveys."

Results on K-12 finance: "Only seven percent of respondents were able to correctly identify how much taxpayers spend on K-12 education. Those best informed - knowing total aid per-pupil is nearly 10 percent higher than five years ago - are much less willing to pay higher taxes for education (31%) than those who believe total aid is more than 10 percent lower than five years ago (64%).  

"Respondents in western Kansas are clearly the best informed about K-12 finance. On the other hand, respondents in eastern Kansas and the Wichita area were least able to accurately recount issues of per-pupil spending and how much it has changed over time."

On administrative consolidation in public education: "Kansans clearly believe that local school districts should consolidate non-classroom functions such as administration, transportation, building maintenance and food service across district lines. 65 percent of Kansans strongly / somewhat support this sort of administrative consolidation, while only 28 percent are strongly or somewhat opposed. Solid support exists all across Kansas, ranging from 52 percent in western Kansas to 70 percent in eastern Kansas."

On State General Fund spending and gov't efficiency: "31 states are estimated to have spent less per-resident than Kansas in 2012, and general fund spending was 31 percent more than in 2005. It's not surprising that a plurality of Kansans, 43 percent, believe state spending should decline - more than twice the number of Kansans who think government should spend more taxpayer money.

"We often hear laughter when we ask people around the state if government operates efficiently. This poll not only backs that up, but also shows that 83 percent of Kansans believe the state government could operate five to 10 percent more efficiently. Even 82 percent of participants who are government employees agree.  This should be extremely informative to legislators as they decide how to implement tax reform, as our recent study shows that only a one-time spending adjustment of about 8.5 percent is all that's needed to implement the tax reform bill passed this year.  Making government operate about 8.5 percent more efficiently would provide balanced budgets with healthy ending balances and thereafter allow spending to increase with revenues.

"This isn't about cutting services; it is about delivering core services more efficiently. And based on what Kansans believe it should be done to reduce property taxes."

On property taxes: "It should surprise no one that 69 percent of Kansans think their property taxes are too high - they've increased 99 percent between 1997 and 2011, or nearly three times the rate of inflation. What is more noteworthy is that 51 percent of Kansans cite over- and inefficient spending as the reason their property taxes are too high. Only 12 percent of Kansans think that a 99 percent increase in property taxes is due to better service."

Conclusions: "Good decisions can only be made based on accurate information and this survey clearly shows that everyone from the media, elected officials, school districts, and KPI have to work harder to give Kansans the facts so they can accurately inform government on what they would like to see done with their tax dollars."

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Kansas Policy Institute is an independent think-tank that advocates for free market solutions and the protection of personal freedom for all Kansans.  Our work centers on state and local economic policy with primary emphasis on education, fiscal policy and health care.  We empower citizens, legislators and other government officials with objective research and creative ideas to promote a low-tax, pro-growth environment that preserves the ability of governments to provide high quality services. 
To speak with Kansas Policy Institute, please contact James Franko at (316) 634-0218.