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Education, water should be top priorities, say Arizonans

aerial view of canal in Arizona
February 27, 2015

Education and water rank as Arizonans’ top two priorities among state residents, according to a new poll by ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The inaugural Morrison-Cronkite Quarterly Poll surveyed 754 Arizona adults to assess resident attitudes and opinions about a variety of issues, from health care to law enforcement to arts and culture.

When asked to prioritize the K-12 system in the context of state spending – very high, high, low or very low priority – nearly nine in 10 Arizonans (89 percent) responded very high (46 percent) or high (43 percent) in terms of funding consideration for education.

“This comes as no surprise,” said David Daugherty, associate director of Morrison Institute and director of the statewide poll. “Researchers have consistently noted that Arizonans recognize their public school system’s shortcomings and their desire to improve it.”

Law enforcement and public safety ranked third (82 percent) in the poll, yet Arizona’s prison system ranked lowest among the 11 listed priorities (42 percent).

In regard to state funding, nearly eight in 10 Arizona adults believe Arizona spends too little on K-12 education, with nearly two-thirds willing to put additional money into K-12 education, according to the poll.

While the vast majority of Arizonans is concerned about the state’s kindergarten through 12th-grade education system and believes further investment and improvements are critical, Arizona consistently hovers near the bottom of all 50 states in academic quality, achievement and per-pupil spending.

Meanwhile, among the 11 issues offered to respondents, “maintaining adequate water and water quality” ranks at that same level of importance (87 percent) as education.

“It’s apparent that the importance of ensuring an adequate and quality water supply for Arizona’s varied interests figures prominently on Arizonans’ radar. This is a complex and dynamic issue, but clearly one that Arizonans understand as a priority that needs to be thoroughly examined and addressed,” Daugherty said.

The second installment of findings from the Morrison-Cronkite Quarterly Poll will be released March 3 and include such topics as marijuana laws, water supply and care giving for people with disabilities.

Learn more about the poll results.