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Poll shows most Kansans want court to order more school funding; Davis has slight lead over Brownback; Roberts faces challenge

A new poll out today shows that by a wide margin, most Kansans believe public schools are underfunded and want the Kansas Supreme Court to step in by ordering more funding.

The survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm based in North Carolina, found 59 percent of those responding believe that public schools in Kansas are not adequately funded, and an equal number think the Kansas Supreme Court should rule that funding for public schools needs to be increased.

The court is currently considering an appeal of the case Gannon vs. Kansas in which a trial court ruled in January 2013 that the Legislature has failed to meet its constitutional duty to make "suitable provision" for financing education. The trial court ordered the Legislature to add more than half a billion dollars a year to the K-12 education budget. A decision by the Supreme Court is expected at any time.

The survey of 693 Kansas voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent. It included telephone interviews as well as internet responses to capture voters who do not have land-line telephones.

Other findings of the PPP Kansas poll included:

• Democrat Paul Davis of Lawrence holds a slim lead over Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, 42-40.

• While Brownback suffers from a 51-percent disapproval job rating, 59 percent of those surveyed don't know enough about Davis to have an opinion of him one way or another.

• Brownback's tax policies are unpopular among voters, with only 26 percent saying they have been successful and 47 percent saying they have not.

• Former Kansas governor and current Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius now has a 55 percent disapproval rating. While she was governor from 2003 to 2009, polls routinely showed her job approval rating in the upper 50s or low to mid 60s range. She is occasionally talked about as a potential Democratic challenger to GOP Sen. Pat Roberts, but has never made any public indication that she's thinking about a Senate bid.

• Roberts may have a challenge on his hands for re-election. Although he leads his GOP challenger Milton Wolf, 42-23 percent, PPP says that appears to be a function of name recognition, since only 24 percent of GOP primary voters are familiar with Wolf. Roberts' own job approval rating is split: 29 percent approve; 38 disapprove; 32 percent are not sure. That's a 12-point drop in his approval rating from a year ago.

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