Boise State University’s School of Public Service released its eighth annual Idaho Public Policy Survey to gain insight into Idahoan’s opinions about the direction of the state and policies legislators should seek to implement.
Early on in the survey, respondents were asked how important certain issues were for the Idaho State Legislature to address. According to the survey, the top two legislative priorities remain unchanged from years past.
“Education is a priority,” said Sen. Doug Ricks. “It always has been. We want a good education for our children and adults so education is always a big, big issue.”
Ricks said this priority has impacted the types of bills being brought forth in the legislature with many focusing on education whether that’s in elementary school, high school or college.
The survey revealed the desire for education reform in Idaho based on how a majority of Idahoans ranked K-12 public schools throughout the state. Majorities of all party identifications provided an unfavorable assessment by rating K-12 public schools as either fair or poor.
When asked about top priorities for K-12 education, results fell into six categories: Academic content, academic quality, funding, policy/programmatic changes, teacher support and other.
During a 2022 special session, the Idaho Legislature passed legislation transferring $330 million in sales tax collected to the K-12 public school fund. Respondents did not hesitate to express how they wished the money to be spent.
A significant number of those surveyed said the money should be used to increase teacher pay, which is something Governor Brad Little mentioned he would fight for in his State of the State speech last month.
Taxing and budgeting
When the survey was conducted last November, the state of Idaho planned to have a budget surplus of $1 billion. Surveyors were asked how and where they feel the money should be spent.
The most popular response was giving tax relief to Idahoans. When it came to what type of tax relief would be preferred, 41% of surveyors said they would prefer property tax relief.
This desire for property tax relief reflects Idahoans’ increased concern over high property taxes. Fifty-six percent of Idahoans say that property taxes in Idaho are too high, which is a 10-point increase over last year.
“We hear more from people about property tax than anything else,” Ricks said.
Impact on legislators
Ricks said surveys like the Idaho Public Policy survey help him and his colleagues serve their constituents better.
“The more we understand what is perceived by the public as important, it helps us as we’re trying to figure out policy,” Ricks said. “We have, especially with education, tried to put forth things that would be beneficial and helpful in those regards. It does help. It really does by having some of those surveys.”
You can read more about the survey results here.