Job creation, education and government efficiency tops concerns for Hoosiers
Topic: Miller College of Business
December 2, 2010
Job creation, upgrading K-12 education and improving government efficiency are the top priorities for the Indiana state legislature and Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2011, a new public opinion survey from Ball State University reveals.
The Hoosier Survey 2010 produced by Ball State's Bowen Center for Public Affairs found that 77 percent of Indiana residents questioned believe that job creation is the state's top priority, up from 73 percent last year. The complete survey may be found at www.bsu.edu/bowencenter.
Each year the Hoosier Survey provides Indiana lawmakers with public opinion on a variety of highly charged issues to be considered next session. The 2011 legislative term will include developing a new two-year budget for the state.
The Bowen Center contracted with Princeton Survey Research Associates to sample 600 voting-age adults.
The survey's findings will be announced publicly at 8:10 a.m. Dec. 2 at the annual Bingham McHale Legislative Conference at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.
Improving government efficiency finished second in this year's results at 61 percent, just ahead of improving schools (58 percent) and making health care more affordable (52 percent).
"Creating jobs is a hot issue for many people simply because Indiana has suffered in the recent recession as the state has lost thousands of good-paying jobs," said Hoosier Survey co-author Ray Scheele, a political science professor and co-director of the Bowen Center. The survey team also includes Joe Losco, chair of the political science department, and Sally Jo Vasicko, a political science professor and center co-director.
"For the last generation or two, governors across the nation have branded themselves as job creators and Gov. Daniels is no exception," Scheele said. "In the last few years, Gov. Daniels has traveled overseas to talk to foreign businesses about investing in Indiana and he has been successful in bringing Honda production facilities to the state. I think people believe he is responsible for creating new jobs for people of all education and skill levels."
Losco, meanwhile, believes the legislature will review procedures and policies when it comes to granting tax abatements and other incentives to companies relocating to Indiana.
"There has been some disparity between the number of jobs promised and the number actually created," he said. "In fact, we believe that Hoosiers are telling us that they want government to be more efficient and more accountable."
Education another major issue
The survey also found K-12 education to be a major issue for Indiana residents as school districts face funding cuts due to property tax caps, limiting homeowners' bills to 1 percent of a property's assessed value, farmland and rental property to 2 percent and commercial land to 3 percent.
School districts across the state have been forced to cut staffing and other services, creating a problem the state must address, Losco said.
"Because state government has taken over the allocation of resources what was a local issue is now a state issue," he added.
The 2010 survey also found 45 percent of Hoosiers saying that schools in communities facing the greatest obstacles to learning should have a higher funding priority than schools in communities experiencing the greatest growth (27 percent). About 14 percent believe that both types of schools should receive equal funding.
"Another major issue is going to be over what to do with charter schools because Gov. Daniels wants to expand their number, but by a two-to-one margin, respondents prefer not to create more charter schools and instead, use those funds to support current schools," Losco said.
In 2001, the Indiana General Assembly approved legislation allowing four-year public universities, public school districts and the mayor of Indianapolis to sponsor charter schools. Ball State is the only university authorizing charter schools in Indiana. As a public charter schools authorizer, Ball State does not run the schools but reserves the right to rescind a charter if a school fails to meet performance standards.