The poll of likely voters was conducted jointly by Democratic pollster Keith Frederick and Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen. A release about the results says, “A strong majority of Texas voters support using some of the $12 billion in the state’s Rainy Day Fund to restore the $5.4 billion cut from the public education budget two years ago, and the support is strong across party lines.”
The question about school funding was asked two ways. The first version told respondents about the growth in the Rainy Day Fund and asked if they favored putting $5 billion back into public schools. The results:
Democrats: Yes, 93%
Independents: Yes, 76%
Republican primary voters: Yes, 61%
The second version asked respondents if they favored spending $5 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to hire more teachers, reduce class sizes, and restore important academic programs, or if they believed spending that money could lead to future tax increases and schools should first do a better job of cutting waste, bureaucracy, and overhead.
Restore the funding:
Yes: 69% overall
Republican primary voters 52%
Another question asked if the funding cuts hurt the quality of classroom instruction?
32% No, the cuts were absorbed by cutting waste in schools.
This was a very good poll for supporters of public education. However, I thought the response of TSTA President Rita Haecker was ill advised:
“Texans are not fooled by the rhetoric coming from the education-cutters in Austin,” said TSTA President Rita Haecker. “The vast majority of voters – Republicans, Democrats and independents alike – know that the budget cuts have hurt our classrooms. They also know that the Legislature has enough money to restore the funding without raising anyone’s taxes, and they demand that their legislators do the right thing for our children.”
I think Haecker would have been wiser to express appreciation for the many Texans who supported public education rather than harping on “the education cutters in Austin.”