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Poll: Voters favor new taxes to boost shrinking school funds

More than two thirds of Wyoming’s registered voters are willing to pay more in taxes to fund K-12 public education, according to a Republican polling firm contracted by the Wyoming Education Association.

Polling company Public Opinion Strategies conducted telephone surveys of 500 registered voters in July, pollster Lori Weigel said. Of those polled, 78 percent said they would be willing to pay more money to avoid cuts to education budgets. Thirty-two percent said they would pay $200 or more a year, 19 percent said $50 or less, with the rest falling between.

The WEA presented the new poll in a press conference Wednesday, offering a counterpoint to conservative lawmakers who say citizens want to see more budget cuts before new taxes.

WEA’s president, Kathy Vetter, recognized the poll results were a rebuke of some prominent lawmakers. “That’s why we hired the largest Republican pollster,” she told WyoFile. “So that they would represent our state, because we all know our state is about two-thirds Republican voters.”

Wyoming Education Association president Kathy Vetter listens to a question about the education funding poll. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

The poll will give new ammo to proponents of maintaining the current education funding system, as the debate enters the second half of the interim legislative period. The Legislature convenes Feb. 12, 2018 to hash out the state’s budget.

Respondents were given four tax-increase options, based on taxes considered during the last legislative session, and asked which would be most acceptable. Tax increases on the energy industry were most favored, with 67 percent of respondents saying a tax increase on wind tax would be acceptable. Sixty-three percent said a tax increase on fossil fuel industries would be acceptable.

Neither of those tax ideas has much legislative support, nor would they broaden Wyoming’s tax base beyond energy-industry dependance.

Sales and property tax increases, borne by residents, were less popular. Only 39 percent of respondents called a property tax increase acceptable. Increasing the sales tax did better in the poll. It was acceptable to 58 percent of respondents.

In August, the Legislature’s Revenue Committee asked staff for draft bills of increases to both the sales and the property tax.

The complete poll is available here.

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Andrew Graham is reporting for WyoFile from Laramie. He covers state government, energy and the economy. Reach him at 443-848-8756 or at [email protected], follow him @AndrewGraham88

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2 Responses to Poll: Voters favor new taxes to boost shrinking school funds

  1. Cathy Raney September 6, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    One tenth of 1% of the population of Wyoming participated in this survey. A survey that even though it was favorable toward tax increases, was only favorable toward increasing the taxes that OTHERS pay first. And I really cannot help but wonder how many of these respondents are WEA members… This whole survey stinks to high heaven.

    Gillette, Wyoming

  2. Damon Jensen August 31, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

    The teacher’s union- the Wyoming Education Association- pays for a poll which reports that voters do not want their funding source cut. Considering vested interests, this may have involved question wording that led to the desired answer (push polling.) The National Education Association reports that 51% and 39% support charter schools in different polls. This poll reports 12% in red Wyoming support charter schools. A discrepancy this large is another indication that this poll is garbage. As Mark Twain said, “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.” I would prefer education spending waste be eliminated before taxes are increased. For example, in Lincoln #2 they built a brand new administration building when the old Annex worked fine and paid for fake turf on the football field. As a K-12 Wyoming beneficially I attest we have great teachers but do have administrative fat.

    afton, Wyoming

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