Boise State survey: education is the most important issue facing Idaho

Posted at 1:17 PM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-13 15:17:07-05

While Idahoans are satisfied with the current policy and fiscal activities of Idaho, a new statewide survey conducted by Boise State University shows Idahoans find it increasingly important that the state legislature address health care and, to a lesser extent, transportation in the coming years. It also identified education as “the most important issue” facing the state.

The second annual Idaho Public Policy Survey was conducted Dec. 3-8 of last year, and surveyed 1,000 adults currently living in the state.

Respondents were asked about their attitudes concerning several key policy issues, including significant focus on revenue and spending, transportation, education, refugees, and energy and climate change.

“Policy makers and citizens alike can view the results of this survey as the most accurate snapshot available about how Idahoans feel about the important policy issues of the moment,” said Justin Vaughn, an Associate Professor of Political Science and director of the survey research team. “Because of the large size of the survey and its representativeness across the entire state, we can be confident when we see public support for action on some issues such as health care and education -- while we also see the public generally satisfied with other issues, such as size of the state budget and the amount of tax revenue the state takes in.” 

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, but there are exceptions:

Among the survey’s key findings, according to a BSU news release:

• For the second consecutive year, Idahoans identified education as “the most important issue” facing the state. However, there was a significant uptick in the evaluation of K-12 public education quality, although respondents view their own districts more favorably than the state as a whole.

• A significant 11.2 percent increase in respondents stated that it was “very important” for the state legislature to address health care, when compared to last year’s survey.

• A slight increase (+3.7 percent) of respondents who felt addressing transportation issues was “moderately important,” combined with a significant decrease (-7.9 percent) in those stating addressing transportation was “not very important.”

• Significant support for reauthorization of the surplus eliminator program, which splits excess revenue generated from gas taxes and vehicle fees into accounts for construction projects and the state’s rainy day fund.

• For the first time, respondents also were asked about natural resource and tax policy areas. Nearly 57 percent of respondents stated addressing natural resources was “very important”, whereas nearly 47 percent stated that addressing tax policy was “very important.”

“The School of Public Service was created in 2015 in part to serve as an objective and unbiased resource to decision-makers throughout Idaho,” said Corey Cook, dean of the school. “We think that high quality, rigorous public opinion research can be useful to citizens and elected officials as they contemplate effective solutions to pressing public concerns and draws upon the considerable skills of our faculty in the school.”

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.