More than three-fifths of Washington State voters support adding at least $2 billion more to the state’s education budget to help K‑12 public schools address needs stemming from the pandemic, NPI’s latest statewide poll has found.
63% of 700 likely 2022 Washington State voters surveyed by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for NPI last week expressed support for making big investments to address the state’s teacher shortage, raise funding for special education, and increase the number of nurses and counselors in Washington State schools.
30% were opposed and 7% were not sure.
Total opposition is fourteen percentage points less than the percentage who strongly support adding $2 billion to the budget to ensure that our schools can bounce back successfully from the pandemic, properly fund special education, hire more nurses and counselors, and keep teachers on the job.
This finding demonstrates that voters are eager for their elected representatives to make big investments in our public schools to power their journey out of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Washington State Constitution states clearly in Article IX, Section 1 that it is the state’s “paramount duty… to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.”
Current funding levels are far from ample, and voters know it. Recent state revenue collections have been very strong, which means the Legislature already has money available with which to make major investments in our schools.
Here’s the full text of the question we asked, and the answers we received:
QUESTION: Recent state revenue collections have been $3.6 billion higher than forecasts anticipated, giving Washington state legislators more dollars to work with when writing budgets. Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose adding $2 billion to the approximately $50 billion education budget to address the state’s teacher shortage, raise funding for special education, and increase the number of nurses and counselors in Washington State schools?
- Support: 63%
- Strongly support: 44%
- Somewhat support: 19%
- Oppose: 30%
- Somewhat oppose: 13%
- Strongly oppose: 17%
- Not sure: 7%
Our survey of 700 likely 2022 Washington State voters was in the field from Thursday, February 17th through Friday, February 18th, 2022.
It utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines (50%) and text message answers from cell phone only respondents (50%).
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute and has a margin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence interval.
Although the McCleary case is no longer active, our research has found that most voters still feel that our schools are underfunded — a question we have been periodically asking since 2015. When we asked voters last spring if they agreed that schools were underfunded and state revenue should be raised to fully fund them, a majority said yes. And we asked that question after the Legislature had voted to levy a new capital gains tax on the wealthy to fund public education.
The Legislature is to be commended for having found the political will to levy our new capital gains tax on the wealthy last session. It was a big and important step towards a more equitable tax code and increased funding for education.
But our work is not done. The pandemic has exacerbated problems that we were already facing, like a shortage of teachers. It’s critical that lawmakers step up now and address those problems, along with finally providing the funding that our schools need for special education and additional nurses and counselors.