Hour of Code

Jarren Rose, center, looks over the shoulders of Anthony Holmes, left, and Trey Willes, right, during the Hour of Code event as part of the nationwide Computer Science Education Week on Dec. 6 at Twin Falls High school in Twin Falls.

PAT SUTPHIN

TWIN FALLS — Education and the economy are top priorities for Idahoans in 2018, a statewide survey released this week shows.

The third annual Idaho Public Policy Survey, published by Boise State University’s School of Public Service, indicates that Idaho residents are mostly optimistic about the future of the state. They largely favor cutting Idaho’s sales tax on groceries over an income tax reduction, and they say the economy should have a greater focus on technology and innovation going forward.

The survey of 1,000 adults, conducted in early December, draws from all regions of the state, with every county represented according to population.

Answers from south-central Idaho respondents — hailing from Twin Falls, Jerome, Gooding, Lincoln, Blaine, Minidoka, and Cassia Counties — provide a snapshot of public opinion on several key issues.

When it comes to education, survey results show that Idahoans aren’t happy with their schools. Just 33 percent of respondents described the quality of education in K-12 schools as good or excellent, with 25 percent deeming it poor.

Respondents showed more optimism when asked to rate the quality of public schools in their own areas: 44 percent described their local schools as excellent or good and just 17 percent as poor.

But the survey suggests Magic Valley residents are less satisfied with their schools than others in the state. 38 percent said local schools were excellent or good, while 27 percent — nearly a third of respondents — described their public schools as poor.

In a year when tax cuts are a priority for state legislators, the majority of Idahoans would rather see the 6 percent sales tax on groceries eliminated than income tax cuts. 59 percent of respondents said they’d prefer a grocery tax cut, compared to the 28 percent who would rather reduce income taxes.

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Magic Valley residents favored a grocery tax cut at even higher rates: 73 percent of those surveyed said they’d rather eliminate a tax on food, and just 19 percent favored an income tax reduction.

Overall, it seems Idahoans are optimistic about the future of the state and its economy: 57 percent of statewide respondents said they felt the state was “generally headed in the right direction,” and 85 percent predicted that the economy would either improve or stay the same over the next two years.

More divisive is the question of what that economy should look like. 57 percent of respondents across the state said Idaho should focus on technology and innovation, while 34 percent said the economy should center around historic strengths, such as farming.

Magic Valley residents were more divided: 48 percent said the state should focus on tech and innovation, while 47 percent favored historic strengths.

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