Written by Bob Brookens Tuesday, 16 March 2010 18:45
The results are in—at least for now. I’m likely to receive a few more surveys, but here are the overall results as of now. Thank you, all for responding, 1,342 so far.
As I’ve said, your comments are the most helpful, and the tallied numbers are next. While this is a survey and not a voting process, the answers are quite helpful. Through this survey, I’ve learned most of you know we aren’t likely to agree on every issue. But this survey helps me shape policy in Kansas, and I’ve gained a lot of good ideas.
I also learned some issues matter to you more than others. I now know none of us like to be taxed, and yet I found out many in this district advocate for increasing their own taxes when it’s for something they feel strongly about. I also learned many want no tax increase and believe we can cut enough to fill the $300 million hole.
I received comments regarding each question on the survey, more on some than others. Due to space constraints, I can’t share all comments.
Some folks left questions blank for various reasons, including: Don’t know the law; See both sides; Cannot decide; Don’t care. So I am showing percentages of those who did indicate a clear yes or no, not always the entire number responding to the question. Here we go:
• Repeal the death penalty? Yes 45, No 55
• Ban smoking in public places? Yes 65, No 34.6
• Let the business owner decide if to allow smoking? Yes 62.6, No 37.4
All who opposed the ban want businesses to decide; and quite a few who advocate the ban are also OK with the businesses’ input. The bill we voted on didn’t present that option. We are told a “trailer bill” is needed on the subject, and that businesses could weigh in through that bill.
• Sell beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores? Yes 39.5, No 60.
More on this one later.
• Show a voter ID to vote? Yes 80.5, No 19.5
• Stop all late-term abortions? Yes 57, No 4
Quite a few underlined the word “all” and then marked “No.”
• Better enforcement of the abortion laws? Yes 78, No 22
• Tighter laws on the subject of abortion? Yes 56, No 44
Many didn’t answer the “enforcement” and “tighter laws” questions, commenting they were uninformed and thought they shouldn’t comment without learning more first.
• Use a tax increase plus spending cuts to balance budget? Yes 44, No 57
• Increase tax for K-12 education? Yes 48, No 52
A few who said no to this question checked the spot for “other interests” and said funding for K-12 education was important.
• Increase tax for disabled and Medicaid? Yes 56, No 44
• If you marked yes, which tax you would raise? Totals: Sales 680; Property 80; Income 232; Cigarettes 822; Beer/alcohol 830.
This was hard to tally, as folks could mark more than one, and most by far marked sales, cigarettes and beer-alcohol. Many said sales tax is fairest because we all pay it; some thought it is the least fair because it hits those with the least, too. Some said an increase in income tax would be fairer because they have the money to pay it.
There was only one spot to mark because I simply wanted a feel on your attitudes, and a few tried to rectify by double-marking. Please compare the numbers to each other, not percentages. Also, only those who marked “yes” to the answers on taxing were to check these boxes, but many who consistently said “no” also responded to these, showing their preference for one tax or another, although they prefer no tax increase.
The most telling response is the clear opposition to property tax. With all the limits now in place on who pays it and what they pay, that tax is no longer a broad-based tax, and it falls mostly on homeowners and businesses.
Except for the sales tax, it appears from the comments we’re willing to tax discretionary spending. Sales tax is the one place folks seem to say “raise my taxes.”
• Cut all agencies equally to balance budget, without favoring any area? Yes 50, No 50
• Raise taxes to support the priority areas you marked on the survey? Yes 52, No 48
Under “other” some wrote “education” or “K-12” and marked yes.
Several people are angry I’ve not killed the proposed health-care bill or are upset about the American Recover & Reinvestment Act, which Congress passed in fall 2008. Our state legislature has no control over those debates.
The most common statements:
(1) Government needs to live within its means. I agree. Even many who stated a willingness to have their taxes raised thought we needed to keep paring down the size of our government.
(2) We should keep our schools funded.
(3) Cut the excess. I agree, but the problem is—excess to you may not be excess to your neighbor, depending on your area of interest. So far the “BRAC” bill is stuck in the Senate.
(4) Legislative pay is too high, and some believe I’m in Congress making big bucks. I’m not. I’m in the state legislature. Early on, I committed to cut my own pay if we don’t cut it through legislation. More on this later.
You may e-mail me at: Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at either 201 Meadow Lane, Marion, KS 66861 or Kansas State Capitol Building, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612; or call me at 620-382-2133 or 785-296-7699.