Kansas Chamber Releases Survey Results

Topeka, Kan.—March 25, 2009—The Kansas Chamber of Commerce held a news conference at 1 p.m. today to present findings from a recent survey regarding the comprehensive energy bill currently being debated by the legislature. The statewide poll, conducted by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates, surveyed 600 registered Kansas voters from March 17-19.

The survey reveals that 58 percent of Kansas voters consider the economy, jobs and the budget the most important issues facing the state.

―This comprehensive energy legislation is the result of a lot of hard work by both chambers,‖ said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton. ―We’ve lost thousands of jobs during this tough economic cycle, and I believe we simply must pass this legislation to provide the jobs that Kansans deserve, no matter where they live in our state.‖

Rep. Eber Phelps, D-Hays, agreed. “This bill will spur conservation and promote renewable energy as well as coal-fired power. Thus it will bring jobs to Kansas in all three of those sectors.”

The Holcomb Expansion Project, which will provide 2,500 jobs during construction and more than 300 permanent jobs, is viewed by many Kansans as an important solution to solving the economic and job issues. Almost twice as many voters support the construction of the project (51 percent to 26 percent) as oppose it. Forty percent of all voters and 56 percent of supporters indicate that their reason for support is based on the project’s job creation and private investment in the state.

―The members of my unions have been hit hard during this recession, and we support this legislation because it will put union members back to work,‖ said Rich Taylor, business manager for the Central and Western Kansas Building and Construction Trades Council. ―Our members possess the skills to build the infrastructure that will secure Kansas’ energy future, and we are ready to get to work.‖

What will no doubt be important to politicians is that unaffiliated voters decisively support construction of the project (46 percent to 23 percent) as do voters who regularly vote in primary elections (57 percent to 22 percent). Voters not only want the power plant expansion to be built in western Kansas, but they also expect their legislators to take action on the issue. Fully 56 percent said the legislature should overturn a gubernatorial veto of this issue, a percentage that reflects support from Republicans (66 percent overturn veto to 18 percent sustain) and Democrats (42 percent overturn veto to 37 percent sustain). Only 25 percent of total participants say the Governor’s veto should not be overridden.

Support for the project is not only broad, but has also developed depth. Support for the construction of the Holcomb expansion increases among those most informed. Sixty-four percent of Kansas voters were aware of the ongoing debate prior to the poll. In this group, support is higher (53 percent) than among the 34 percent who were unfamiliar with the issue (49 percent).

Other elected officials and business leaders voiced their support of the pending legislation:

―While I’m supportive of the economic development components of this legislation, the most important facet for my constituents is the reliability and security of our future energy supply.‖ – Senator Janis Lee, D- Kensington

―Many of our members have lost their jobs recently. This energy bill will not only be putting our members to work, it will also be keeping the lights on all across the sunflower state.‖– Garry Kemp, business manager of the Greater Kansas City Building & Construction Trades Council

―We’ve spent two years putting this bill together, and I am confident that the current bill reflects the need we have for more power and more jobs; but most importantly, it will show the world that Kansas is a rule-of-law-state that operates with regulatory certainty for all businesses.‖ – Speaker of the House Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson

―Our organization works hard every day to make Kansas the best state in America to do business. Energy costs and regulatory certainly are central to our mission to expand Kansas commerce and attract businesses to our state. This bill is imperative to help create a business climate and create jobs and economic growth for Kansas.‖ – Amy Blankenbiller, Kansas Chamber of Commerce president and CEO

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The Kansas Chamber, with headquarters in Topeka, is the statewide business advocacy group moving Kansas towards becoming the best state in America to do business. The Chamber represents small, medium and large employers.