Possible big cut coming for TOPS in spring as Louisiana budget deal reached, special legislative session ends _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Gov. John Bel Edwards Shares humor with Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, right, after the Senate passed the full spending bill on the last day of the second special second legislative session.

At least Louisiana legislators can say they are more popular than Congress. 

The University of New Orleans Survey Research Center on Thursday released the results of its latest "robo-poll" of Louisiana voters that put the state Legislature's approval rating at 23 percent. Half of the voters surveyed said they disapprove of the state's legislative body, while 27 percent said they were not sure.

Congress's approval rating made headlines earlier this week when it hit its highest level since 2009: 19 percent. Congress recently has rated lower than lice and colonoscopies, among other unpleasant things.

The Survey Research Center conducted the interactive voice response telephone survey of 919 respondents on Feb. 7. It has a 3.5 percent margin of error. 

"Interactive voice response" polls use automated recorded questions and ask respondents to punch keys on their phones to respond, rather than live interviewers.

Gov. John Bel Edwards' approval rating among those surveyed was 49 percent. He got his highest marks in the 2nd and 6th Congressional districts. But 57 percent of Republicans surveyed disapprove of the job the Democratic governor has done since taking office a year ago.

That's significantly down from a December poll, conducted with in-person calls by Southern Media & Opinion Research, found Edwards with a more comfortable 62.8 percent approval rating.

The survey also tested how respondents feel about the state budget and the special session that Edwards has called to begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday to address a $304 million mid-year deficit.

Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said they believe the state is facing a budget crisis, while 15 percent said they don't think the state's finances are bad. Republicans (73 percent) and Democrats (75 percent) were in agreement on that. Those who identified as independent voters were slightly more inclined than the two major parties to say the state's facing financial problems at 79 percent.

A majority of respondents blame former Gov. Bobby Jindal for the state's budget crisis, at 60 percent. Thirteen percent blame Edwards, and 23 percent say that budget problems are the fault of the state Legislature.

Voters surveyed also overwhelmingly agree with Edwards that the upcoming special session is needed. Some Republicans had questioned whether it would be worth the time and cost if cuts could be made by the governor and the Joint Budget Committee.

But 68 percent of those surveyed said there is a need for a special session to address the budget situation, while 18 percent said they found a special session unnecessary.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.