May 13, 2017
A ground-breaking poll released today indicates that Oregonians see K-12 public education as the state's top funding priority, and that they support raising business taxes to avoid cutting school budgets.
In late February 2017, DHM Research surveyed 600 registered Oregon voters on behalf of the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA). The goal was to assess Oregonians' values, their state budgeting priorities and support for possible revenue reform strategies. The full survey can be found on the OSBA website.
A recording of today's press conference to announce the survey results can be found on OSBA's Facebook page.
This survey is believed to be the most comprehensive and up-to-date evaluation of Oregonians' public spending priorities as the state faces a $1.6 billion budget shortfall for 2017-19 and a long-term struggle paying for services such as education, health and public safety.
"This poll clearly shows how much Oregonians value our public schools, and that they are willing to tackle the difficult choices we need to make so our students receive the education they deserve," said Betty Reynolds, president of the OSBA board of directors.
Jim Green, OSBA's executive director, said the poll provides important information for legislators to act.
"Our state's voters are looking for leadership on the issue of revenue reform," Green said. "We all know that taxes are always a tough subject for legislators, but for nearly a decade we've been balancing the state budget on the backs of our students. Our young people need better from us."
The poll results demonstrate that of all public services, Oregonians overwhelmingly believe that public K-12 education should be the Legislature's top funding priority – schools were named as often in this regard as the next three public services combined, including public safety.
- Roughly half of all voters would support raising personal income taxes to avoid cuts to schools in such areas as laying off teachers, cutting science classes or cutting tech or textbook school funding. To avoid those same cuts about 2 of every 3 voters support raising corporate taxes.
- Of those who voted against Measure 97 in November, most would support a corporate tax that varies by industry (61 percent strongly or somewhat support). Most of those same voters also support taxing corporate income instead of gross revenue (63% strongly or somewhat support), and would support a corporate tax dedicated to funding K-12 education (65% strongly or somewhat support).
- About 2 of every 3 voters support changing Oregon's Constitution to mandate that the state fully fund K-12 education, even if that requires a 25 percent increase in schools funding.
- Most Oregonians agree that the state needs a more diverse tax system that is less reliant on personal income taxes (71% strongly or somewhat agree) and that the state should maintain a Rainy Day Fund for tough times (86 percent strongly or somewhat agree). About 61 percent would strongly or somewhat support eliminating the tax "kicker" to use as a Rainy Day Fund for K-12 education.
OSBA is a member services organization for more than 200 locally elected boards serving school districts, education service districts and community colleges. It also provides services to charter schools and their boards.
- Alex Pulaski