Survey: When it comes to new public investments, education spending tops voters’ list

Utah Foundation has released the third in a series of Utah Priorities Project briefs looking at Utah voters’ top concerns. Kindergarten through 12th grade education ranked third in the summer survey. Concern is partly driven by the economic needs of working parents, health risks and educational challenges. K-12 education was most important for voters with children in school and women

When comparing priorities overall, health care and K-12 education are roughly tied, along with a few other issues, on the Priorities Project list of top issues. But when thinking about how the state spends public money, more are concerned about education than health care – 44% compared to 33% (with 12% and 10% prioritizing law enforcement and transportation, respectively).

In addition, when asked if they would be willing to pay more taxes for public schools, 51% of voters agreed, while 32% disagreed (and the others were undecided). There were significant differences based on ideology. Utah voters preferred that additional funding be directed toward teacher pay and smaller class sizes. They did not appear to be interested in new facility spending.

Finally, the Priorities Project survey asked voters if they agreed or disagreed that “Utah’s K-12 public schools offer all kids access to an education that will allow them to succeed.” Most people agreed (54%), while less than one-third disagreed (31%).

“Education spending is a persistent concern of Utah voters,” Utah Foundation President Peter Reichard said. “This fall, voters will decide the fate of a major constitutional amendment addressing state education spending. That vote will be one to watch closely.”

Special thanks to the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and Y2 Analytics for supporting the Utah Priorities Project. The brief is available at