An education funding advocacy group says it has polling data that shows Pennsylvanians place public education high on their priority list and would not mind paying higher income or sales taxes to better support school.
Public Citizens for Children and Youth and the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center commissioned the Lake Researcher Partners poll.
The poll found that 56 percent of all respondents have a favorable opinion of public schools, and 48 percent said they were very concerned about funding for the schools.
“It worries them so much in fact that they are willing to look at restoring the funding, including raising taxes on themselves," said Lake Research Partners President Celinda Lake. "Although they prefer a model that includes some sharing the burden with corporations.”
Fifty-four percent of respondents said they would support higher income taxes if the funds were to be dedicated solely to education. The pollsters also asked if respondents would support an increase in sales tax coupled with a delay in the planned rollback of the corporate net income tax. That was supported 55 percent of the time.
Those numbers held nearly steady after the person giving the poll outlined an argument either for or against increased state funding for education.
“Because we wanted to be sure and see that this was not just an initial first blush of, ‘yeah this sounds good, but wait a minute,’” Lake said.
Support for additional school funding was highest among women at 85 percent and lowest among Republicans, but Lake points out that even among Republicans, support for increased funding topped 33 percent.
The poll of 506 likely 2014 general election voters was conducted last week and carries a plus/minus of 4 percent.
Respondents were asked to choose from a list of top concerns, which included items such as education, jobs and economic development, the environment, and transportation. Jobs topped the list at 28 percent with education coming in a close second at 25 percent. However when asked what lawmakers should be acting on the likely voters placed education and funding for public schools at the top of the list (28 percent), followed by economic development and jobs (27 percent).
Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said lawmakers should take notice of the results.
“The issue of education funding just is not getting as high a priority and very much needs to be a higher priority in the general assembly as they are negotiating the budget," she said.
The Pennsylvania budget is due by Sunday. Several votes are set for the coming days.