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.”
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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