Utah Voters Say Education is Top Priority for State Spending

New Utah Foundation LogoMore than twice as many voters (47% to 20%) agree with the statement, “Utah should reduce taxes and reduce spending.”

That question was part of the statewide Utah Priorities Project, conducted in this gubernatorial election year by the non-partisan Utah Foundation. State taxes and government spending came in 4th on the top ten list of voter concerns.

Taxes and spending have consistently been among the major concerns of Utah votes since the Utah Priorities Project was first conducted in 2004. Taxes and spending ranked 5th 6th in the 2012 survey. Spending was 2nd and taxes 6th in 2010.

The research brief released today shows voters’ views of where state revenue should be spent differ from actual practice. Voters say as much as 22% of state tax money should go to law enforcement. The current state budget has about 7% of spending in that area. Voters say only 5% of spending should support transportation, while the actual figure is about 13%.  Their top priorities, though, match actual spending more closely. Education, voters say, should get 47% of the state’s money, where the current budget allocate about 52%. Healthcare gets 28% of state revenue, while voters say the number should be about 25%.

“There is a strong ideological divide in the data,” said Research Analyst Christopher Collard, the author of the brief. “When compared to conservatives, liberals are less likely to be concerned about taxes and government spending, less likely to think taxes and spending should be reduced, and more likely to support spending on healthcare over law enforcement.”

Collard added, “Lower income Utah voters supported spending on healthcare at much higher levels than higher income Utahns. While Utah’s tax burden about the lowest it has been in the past two decades, nearly half of Utahns still support lower state taxes and spending.”

The voter survey and other information from the Utah Priorities Project are available on the Utah Foundation website at http://www.utahfoundation.org/priorities-project-2016/