The survey reveals the strongest policy support, with 73 percent approval, for a public school trust fund to safeguard tax dollars for education. Georgia’s portion of education funding is nearly 25 percent less on a per-student, inflation-adjusted basis than 10 years ago. During that decade, the state cut $1.1 billion from schools, costing a typical class more than $30,000 a year. Voters are feeling the impact of the austerity cuts and show strong support for a policy to preserve school budgets.
Download the entire survey results as a PDF: BetterGeorgia.com/SurveyAugust2012Georgia
Here’s a snapshot of the results:
In the wake of the mostly failed T-SPLOST referendum, voters are unsure how to solve our state’s transportation problems, but are sure they want a “Plan B.” Only 27 percent of respondents who live in a region that failed to pass the T-SPLOST say that Governor Nathan Deal and legislators should do nothing more on transportation while 51 percent say that Gov. Deal and legislators should have another round of referendums or simply pass a statewide transportation plan without a public vote.
Gov. Deal and Republican legislators have insisted they will not address the growing problems facing the HOPE Scholarship program in the coming legislative session, but a clear majority of voters want the program fixed and even know how to do it. Fifty-six percent of registered voters support limiting the HOPE Scholarship to students who come from families making no more than $140,000 a year. Only 27 percent oppose such a fix. The $140,000 income cap is even favored among Republican voters by 9 percentage points with 47 percent supporting the proposed fix and 37 percent opposing it. This marks the third consecutive Better Georgia survey showing overwhelming voter support of an income cap at some level. Previous surveys asked voters if they would support an income cap as low as $100,000. In January 61 percent of registered Georgia voters, and in March 56 percent, supported the measure.
Although conservative leaders have spent the past decade creating a low-tax, low-regulation state, a majority of voters support policies that end corporate tax breaks or raise income taxes on high-income earners. A clear majority, 54 percent, believe the best way to attract business is by making our schools, roads and other infrastructure as strong as possible instead of aggressively competing with other states by offering special tax breaks and financial incentives to businesses. Only 34 percent support Georgia’s current policy of competing on tax breaks and incentives. More voters – 48 percent to 43 percent — believe Georgia should invest in improving schools and infrastructure instead of keeping taxes and regulations as low as possible. Additionally, 57 percent of voters support raising the state income tax by one percentage point on people making more than $250,000 per year and 53 percent support raising taxes on corporations making more than $5 million per year.
Despite the recent successful efforts by Republican leaders to force customers to front the cost of building new nuclear reactors, voters prefer for Georgia Power to directly pay the costs. In the survey, 79 percent support having Georgia Power’s shareholders finance the construction costs.
As further indication that the heart of Georgia is not as socially conservative as some would suggest, 57 percent of respondents favor granting legal rights to same-sex couples. Twenty-three percent of voters support legalizing gay marriage and 34 percent support civil unions. Only 37 percent believe same-sex couples deserve no legal recognition. Support for granting increased rights to gay couples grows to 63 percent among independent voters.
The Better Georgia survey of 1,654 registered Georgia voters was conducted August 15-18, 2012, by 20/20 Insight, LLC and has a 2.5 percent margin of error for registered voters and a 2.9 percent margin of error for likely voters.
*CORRECTION: Better Georgia originally published this article with wrong information about the water released by Georgia Power into the Chattahoochee River. Although Better Georgia’s original survey question asked respondents about “waste from coal-fired power plants,” our presentation of the results stated that Georgia Power dumped “coal waste” into the Chattahoochee River. Upon review, it is clear there is no evidence to suggest that Georgia Power releases coal waste. In fact, the water released into the Chattahoochee River is used for cooling towers and does not come in contact with any coal. We regret the error and are glad to correct the record.