Gov. Sam Brownback’s approval rating among Kansans continues to flounder and ranks lower than that of President Donald Trump, according to the spring Kansas Speaks survey released Tuesday.
The survey, published twice a year by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University, found that Brownback has an approval rating of 21 percent, while 56 percent said they are “very dissatisfied” with him. The very dissatisfied number is down from the 62 percent the governor received a year ago.
The president, however, did a bit better among Kansans — at least when they were surveyed from Feb. 23 to April 11.
Forty-five percent of Kansans said they were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with Trump, the survey revealed. The president gets a 44 percent disapproval rating from Kansans.
“The other thing we were curious of is who would do better, President Trump or the governor, and it looks like the president did quite a bit better,” said Gary Brinker, director of the Docking Institute.
The survey also asked Kansans what they think about Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. Seventeen percent said they are “very comfortable” with the relationship, while 39 percent said they’re “very uncomfortable.”
Brinker said it was the first time the survey included a question along those lines.
“To think that you’d ask a survey question about a president like that, it’s unusual,” he said.
The survey also provides some insight on public sentiment as Kansas legislators try to come up with a budget, tax plan and school funding formula. Lawmakers have a projected $900 million budget gap to close over the next two years.
Overwhelmingly, Kansans want to repeal the 2012 income tax cuts that exempted many small-business owners: 56 percent of those surveyed “strongly support” reversing the cuts while 13 percent “strongly oppose.”
When asked whether taxes “should increase, remain the same or decrease” on large corporations, top income earners, small businesses or the middle class, about 60 percent of surveyed Kansans agreed corporations and the wealthy should pay more.
The survey also suggested that Kansans are OK with higher taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, something that has been proposed in the state Senate to raise revenue.
If programs have to be cut to balance the budget, about 30 percent prefer cuts to social services or higher education, 25 percent to roads and highways, and 13 percent to public education.
Overall, only 10 percent said the state’s economy was excellent or very good, while 26 percent rate the Kansas economy as poor or very poor.
Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and the Kansas News Service. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.