Marylanders favor state education reform but might not be prepared to fund it


Maryland residents seem to favor education reform but might not be willing to accept increased taxes to fund it, according to a new Goucher College poll.

A new poll finds Maryland residents strongly support many of the education proposals put forth by the Kirwan Commission, which include increasing teacher salaries and education funding.

However, lawmakers may find less enthusiasm actually paying for the proposals once people familiarize themselves with the plan.

The findings come in a new Goucher College Poll released Monday. More than 700 Maryland adults were asked about the individual proposals submitted by the Kirwan Commission.

There’s overwhelming support for doing things like offering more job or vocational training programs (93% agree), raising teacher salaries (85% agree they’re too low) and increasing funding for education (69% agree the state doesn’t provide enough funding).

All of those and more are part of the Kirwan Commission’s proposals, which lawmakers in Annapolis are currently debating.

While lawmakers are discussing the nuances of the proposals, 69% of those surveyed said they’ve heard or read “nothing at all” when it comes to the Kirwan Commission.

The plans also come with a roughly $4 billion price tag, and that’s where the public might be far less willing to support some of the initiatives.

The Goucher College Poll found 51% of Marylanders said the overall amount of state taxes they have is “too high,” and another 44% said it’s “about right.”

Broken down further, 37% said they’d rather keep state services and taxes about the same. Another 28% said they’d rather have more or improved state government services if it meant more taxes. Just as many said they’d rather have fewer in order to reduce taxes.

“Large majorities of Marylanders recognize that public schools are facing the very problems the recommendations were designed to address,” said Mileah Kromer, the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College.

However, “our results suggest that the costs of the Kirwan recommendations, rather than the merits of the plan, will be of concern to Marylanders.”

It’s also the chief reason Gov. Larry Hogan has come out against the commission’s proposals, and it has left Democrats in the General Assembly scrambling to figure out how to come up with a funding plan.

Other findings in the poll revealed:

  • Hogan has a 62% job approval rating as governor, with 20% disapproving and 17% saying they don’t know.
  • Forty-one percent of Marylanders approve of the job the General Assembly is doing right now, with 27% disapproving and 29% indicating they don’t know.
  • Twenty percent of those surveyed said crime and criminal justice is the top issue facing the state right now, with 17% identifying education and 15% viewing economic issues like jobs, taxes, and economic growth as the most important.

The Goucher Poll also found 49% of Marylanders feel the state is heading in the right direction, a 10% drop from this time last year. Another 32% said the state is on the wrong track.

Another issue being debated in Maryland this year is legalized sports betting.

The survey found 47% support the idea of legalizing online sports betting, while 43% oppose it.

However, only 45% support allowing sports betting at places like race tracks, casinos or stadiums in Maryland, while 49% oppose.

The Goucher Poll surveyed 713 Maryland adults between Feb. 13 and Feb. 18. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent.

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