Idahoans greatly favor a “significant” increase in the state cigarette tax, the money going to lower public college tuition, a new Idaho Politics Weekly poll finds.
A January survey by Dan Jones & Associates sees that 61 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” favor such a tobacco tax increase for higher education.
Thirty-seven percent oppose such a tax hike, and 1 percent don’t know.
The new survey also finds Idahoans are split over amending the state Constitution to lower the now-high bar for school bond approval by voters.
And GOP Gov. Butch Otter has significant support in his recommended 7.9 percent increase in public school (K-12) funding for next year.
Jones finds that 46 percent of Idahoans favor changing the Constitution’s current 66 percent super-majority requirement in voter-approved school bonds.
Forty-nine percent want to keep the super-majority requirement, and 5 percent don’t know.
Public education advocates say the two-thirds majority is no longer reasonable.
Several Idaho school districts in recent bond elections – mainly needed to build new schools or rebuild aging facilities – have gotten more than a majority vote, but fell short of the current two-thirds voter approval needed.
A simple majority should be all that’s needed, public school advocates argue.
The Idaho Legislature is heavily Republican. And Jones finds that only 40 percent of Idaho Republicans favor the constitutional change; 59 percent oppose it.
Democrats greatly favor changing the Constitution, 76-22 percent.
Political independents oppose the change, 51-42 percent.
The increase in tobacco taxes earmarked for public college tuition reductions isn’t even close:
-- Idahoans favor a “significant” increase in the cigarette tax, 61-37 percent.
-- Republicans favor the tax hike, 62-37 percent.
-- Democrats want it, 72-26 percent.
-- Political independents like the idea, 63-36 percent.
-- However, other political party members – like libertarians or archconservatives – are against raising the tobacco taxes, 57-44 percent.
Those who told Jones they are “very conservative” politically, however, still want the tax hike, 56-43 percent.
Using tobacco is, to some, a moral issue. For example, the Mormon Church teaches abstinence from tobacco.
Jones finds 74 percent of Idaho Mormons favor the cigarette tax hike to lower college tuition, 74-25 percent.
Catholics barely support the tax increase, 53-46 percent.
Protestants favor it, 58-40 percent.
Other Christian faiths support raising the tobacco tax, 60-40 percent.
Those who said they have no religion barely favor it, 54-45 percent.
Finally, on the heels of last year's significant increase in public education funding, Otter wants to do even more this year.
And Idahoans are for it. Jones finds:
-- 69 percent of all residents favor the 7.9 percent increase in public school funding for next school year, only 24 percent are opposed.
-- Republicans favor Otter’s school spending increase, 69-24 percent.
-- Democrats like it, 84-12 percent.
-- Political independents favor the increase, 70-23 percent.
-- Only those who said they belong to some other political party are closely divided, 44 percent favor Otter’s school spending increase, 45 percent oppose.
Jones polled 621 adults from Jan. 21-31, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.93 percent.