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Fourth Annual Statewide Survey Finds Education Is Top Priority Among Idahoans

A new statewide survey conducted by Boise State University’s School of Public Service shows that Idahoans consider education to be the state’s top priority, yet have mixed opinions of the quality of education in the state, with sizeable numbers believing that educational quality is fair or poor.

In addition, the survey indicates residents feel generally positive about the state’s economic future. Nearly 6 in 10 respondents indicate that they feel the state is heading in the right direction, while less than 3 in 10 feel it is on the wrong track. These numbers are almost identical to last year’s responses.

The fourth annual Idaho Public Policy Survey was conducted Dec. 10, 2018-Jan. 8, 2019, and surveyed 1,004 adults currently living in the state of Idaho. The survey asked respondents about their attitudes on main issues and priorities facing the state: education, budget and taxes, criminal justice and the environment.

“People in Idaho are generally satisfied with the direction that the state is heading, and express optimism about the future,” said Boise State’s Jeffrey Lyons, assistant professor of political science and School of Public Service survey research director. “Education remains the primary challenge that people see, with increasing numbers identifying healthcare and growth as the main issue facing the state.”

Additional key findings are:

  • Respondents generally are in favor of increasing state funding for early childhood education, but not if it is done by reducing spending on education in other places.
  • Idahoans are largely satisfied with the level of state spending and the level of taxation. Majorities favor either no changes or small changes when it comes to Idaho’s tax system.
  • The majority of Idahoans are supportive of allowing cities to vote on local option taxes, though when asked if they would vote in favor of such measures the public is divided.
  • Opinions on sentencing for those convicted of crimes are mixed, but majorities appear to be supportive of giving minimum and maximum sentencing guidance to judges.
  • Majorities support the goal of having the state transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, but this support is reduced if it means higher power bills. Idahoans are most supportive of using more solar energy.

“The School of Public Service was created in 2015 to serve as an objective and unbiased resource for decision makers throughout Idaho while preparing students for lives and careers of ethical effective public service,” said Corey Cook, dean of the School of Public Service. “Rigorous public opinion research can be a useful tool for discerning the policy preferences and priorities of the public at large. 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 sample was designed to be representative of the population, using a random-digit dialing sampling approach, with 60 percent of the respondents contacted on cell phones to increase population coverage.

To view the full report, visit: