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Boise State Survey Shows Continuing Importance of Education, Economic Issues

By: Sherry Squires   Published 12:44 pm / January 18, 2018

A new statewide survey conducted by Boise State University’s School of Public Service shows Idahoans remain optimistic about the economy, but continue to view it as a top policy priority. In addition, the survey shows residents continue to evaluate the quality of public education unfavorably, and new data finds additional potential issues with workforce training and educational opportunities.

The third annual Idaho Public Policy Survey was conducted Dec. 2-7, 2017, and included 1,000 adults currently living in the state of Idaho. The survey asked respondents about their attitudes concerning several key policy issues, including taxes, health care, education and workforce development.

“Although education and the economy continue to top the list of public priorities, concern about both health care and taxes is growing,” said Justin Vaughn, associate professor of political science and director of the survey research team. “The results of this year’s survey provide strong support for action on an affordable Idaho plan for health insurance, while also underscoring the importance of raising awareness about career training opportunities.”

The big picture results of this survey indicate overall satisfaction with the performance of the state and a general steadiness in public attitudes concerning the key challenges the state faces, with exceptions:

Among the survey’s key findings:

● Education and economic matters such as jobs and wages continue to be seen as the top two issues facing the state, though both health care and taxes are growing in importance.
● Idahoans’ optimism about the state’s economic future continues to grow.
● Significant majorities believe natural resource industries, including mining, are important to Idaho’s economy and also believe mining can be done in an environmentally responsible manner.
● Concerns persist about the quality of education in the state, though respondents view their own districts more favorably than the state as a whole.
● Respondents report low levels of awareness of existing workforce development programs and opportunities.
● Attitudes about budget and taxes remain steady and generally satisfied, though nearly one-half of respondents support lowering state taxes, even knowing lower taxes often results in fewer resources to pay for government services.
● Most respondents say their health insurance rates have gone up and strong support exists for an Idaho solution regarding affordable insurance plans.

“The School of Public Service was created in 2015 to prepare students for lives and careers of ethical effective public service and to serve as an objective and unbiased resource for decision makers throughout Idaho. We think that rigorous public opinion research can be a useful tool for discerning the policy preferences and priorities of the public at large,” said Corey Cook, dean of the School of Public Service. “We utilize rigorous methodologies to ensure that we have the best possible data and make the results widely available in hopes that people will find this data useful.”

The survey sample was designed to be representative of all regions of the state and was administered on behalf of the School of Public Service by GS Strategy Group, a Boise-based polling firm. Statewide results have a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

To view the full report visit: sps.boisestate.edu/2018-idaho-public-policy-survey/