A majority of Alabamians continue to rank education as the most important state government activity and believe it, along with healthcare, are underfunded as budget items in the state of Alabama, according to a recent public opinion survey conducted by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.
The report is consistent with other public opinion surveys in past years, with a key change being an increase in education as a prioritization for those polled and healthcare decreasing in the rank of prioritization.
“We do see some differences across subpopulations,” wrote Dr. Randolph Horn, author of the study and a professor of political science at Samford University. “Younger and more educated respondents are more likely to rank education as the most important service than are others. While pluralities or majorities of every partisan identity rank education number one, Democratic identifiers and independents are more likely to do so than are Republicans. Those with low incomes are more likely to rank healthcare as the most important service than are others.”
73 percent, or nearly three-quarters of those responding, believe that too little is being spent on education, according to the poll, with 68 percent stating they believe healthcare is underfunded. At or around half of those responding also believe that too little is spent on both highways and public safety, according to the report.
When asked what they believed should be done with the current state budget surplus, just over half of respondents said they believed it should be used to invest in state services, with approximately 40 percent believing the surplus should be used to reduce taxes in the state.
“A plurality of Republicans say the surplus should be used to reduce taxes, while majorities of independents and Democrats say the surplus should be invested in services,” Horn wrote in the report. “Those with higher levels of education were more likely to say the surplus should be invested in services than those with lower levels of education.”