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Boise State Survey Shows Strong Satisfaction with Local Economy, Concerns Over Education, Transportation

By: Cienna Madrid   Published 9:48 am / October 13, 2016

Out-of-state residents are moving to the Treasure Valley because of the area’s strong economy, relatively low cost of living and perceptions of strong job growth, according to a recent survey of Treasure Valley residents conducted by Boise State University’s School of Public Service.

But while Treasure Valley residents are relatively content with the local economy and quality of life, they expressed concern about public education and dissatisfaction with mass transportation options in the area.

“The Treasure Valley has an exciting future ahead, but getting there will require our leaders make the right choices on important policy issues,” said Justin Vaughn, an associate professor of political science who coordinated the survey for Boise State’s Idaho Policy Institute. “The real value of this survey is that it provides decision makers with a great deal of information about public preferences and priorities.”

The survey, conducted Sept. 11-15, posed roughly 50 questions about Idaho growth as well as perceptions around the quality of life, education, transportation and the economy in the Treasure Valley. The results of the survey can be found here: https://sps.boisestate.edu/treasure-valley-public-policy-survey/

Among the highlights:

Sixty-nine percent of respondents have moved to the Treasure Valley – as opposed to being born here – with the top reasons being for family and employment opportunities. Nearly 65 percent of respondents believe the local economy is strong while only 23 percent rated the national economy as “good.”

In addition, more than 22 percent of Treasure Valley respondents thought that education was the most important issue facing Idahoans today while 20.1 percent were focused on jobs and the economy.

Turning to issues of family, more than 71 percent of respondents agreed that high-quality, affordable preschool is beneficial to educational performance later in life and nearly 52 percent would be willing to spend more in taxes to support access to preschool.

Nearly 67 percent of people surveyed also believed that there are not enough mass transportation options available in the Treasure Valley. In fact, nearly 65 percent would favor a commuter rail service in the Treasure Valley and a majority of people surveyed would be willing to increase their taxes to pay for such an option.

And while more than 64 percent of respondents believed that homelessness in the Treasure Valley is a major issue, the majority of people surveyed were in favor of preserving existing farmland in the area instead of building more affordable housing on the land.

“The School of Public Service, under the leadership of Dean Cook, represents a real resource for community leaders not just in the Treasure Valley but throughout our state,” Vaughn added. “These surveys help present snapshots of public attitudes on important policy matters, and as we do more of them over the coming years we will be able to explain not just what the public thinks but how that thinking is changing over time. These surveys also offer an incredible opportunity for School of Public Service faculty, who can use them as they conduct their own research on a wide range of policy issues.”

One thousand people living in Ada, Canyon and Owyhee counties responded to the survey. Respondents ranged in age from 18-65-plus, with 40 percent identifying as Republican, nearly 30 percent identifying as Democrat, and 20 percent identifying as Independent. The survey includes a margin of error of 3.1 percent.