As of Tuesday, February 6, 2018
What’s your mood like? If you’re like your Gem State neighbors, likely your bottom-line concern is what’s in your wallet and how to keep as much as you earn as possible.
A good thermometer of what’s on the minds of Idahoans, the annual Idaho Public Policy Survey – polling 1,000 adults, and released last month through Boise State University’s School of Public Service — shows state residents optimistic about the economy, but they continue to view it as a top policy priority.
The national trend is that with wages on the increase, workers look to retain those gains rather than having them eaten up in health care costs and increasing taxes. Findings with the Idaho survey reflect that:
●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.
● 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.
What else is of interest in this year’s survey?
One disheartening finding is respondents report low levels of awareness of existing work force development programs and opportunities. Improving the economy lies in part with career and work force training, so the fact those opportunities are flying under the radar shows more needs to be done to improve awareness.
State education took a hit, with respondents evaluating it unfavorably. However, respondents view their own districts more favorably than the state as a whole.
While the survey has value in gauging the state’s public policy temperature, its findings are also of value during the political season – such as we are about to enter. This periodic circus will employ the standard smoke and mirrors in an attempt to divert our gaze toward emotional hot-button issues, which in turn hopes to drive our votes accordingly. Armed with a little data with some substance behind it, hopefully we can hold fast to issues that, while they may be not as sexy, are of true public concern.