(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
PHOENIX — For the sixth year in a row, education tops the list of most important issues for Arizona voters, according to an annual survey by the nonpartisan education advocacy group Expect More Arizona.
The survey of 600 likely Arizona voters found 28% ranked education as the top issue facing the state. Health care came in second with 18% and jobs and the economy was third with 16%.
“Health care and education are the two things that are impacting pretty much everyone, and jobs and the economy are really dependent on education and healthcare right now,” Expect More Arizona President and CEO Christine Thompson said.
“So it wasn’t a surprise that those were the three top issues.”
Last year’s survey had 42% of voters saying education was the top issue, followed by 25% saying immigration and 10% saying health care.
Voters for this year’s survey were also asked what they thought were the main issues facing education in Arizona, and 26% said a general lack of funding. Another 17% said teacher pay and support for teachers while 16% said concerns with remote learning and a desire to get students back in school.
Funding for education remained a concern for Arizona voters even after Proposition 208, also known as the Invest in Education Act, was approved in November. It raises money for education by taxing the state’s wealthiest residents.
Only 29% of voters surveyed agreed that schools will have enough funding as a result of Prop 208. Meanwhile, 79% of voters said they believe the teacher salaries in Arizona are too low and 66% believe K-12 state funding is also too low.
Thompson said she was “happily surprised” that voters feel more funding for education is needed despite the passage of Prop 208 and “the good work the governor and legislature have done to invest in schools.”
“It’s pretty clear that voters want investments in our educational institutions, and I think we need to be mindful of that,” she said.