Education, jobs and the economy: This year’s Idaho Public Policy Survey reveals Idaho residents’ top concerns

Photo by Niamh Brennan

Boise State’s school of Public Research released its 9th annual Idaho Public Policy survey results in January. 

The survey addressed a range of topics in state policy such as housing, public safety, taxes, education, growth and the economy. There were 1,007 Idahoan respondents in total, from 44 of the state’s districts. 

“The purpose of the survey is to provide some insight into how Idahoans feel about public policy issues,” Matthew May, survey research director for the School of Public Service at Boise State University said. “So that when policymakers are debating potential solutions down at the statehouse, they’re able to fold Idahoans’ opinions into their calculus.”

The survey conducted by Greg Strimple Strategy Group used cell phone (25%), landline phone (25%), online (40%) and text message (10%) to collect responses.

Key findings stated that Idahoans top three legislative priorities are education, jobs and the economy and housing.

“Idaho Policy Institute’s mission as a whole was to be an independent, nonpartisan resource for decision makers helping to inform the possible options but not of course, to push any particular option,” Lantz McGinnis-Brown, Research Associate, who has worked on the survey for several years said.

In 2015, the College of Social Science and Public Affairs at Boise state was reconstructed and renamed the School of Public Service, focusing on providing research to support decision-making for policymakers in the state. 

The Idaho Policy Institute was established in 2016 as a reincarnation of research that started in 1990. 

The director of the Idaho Policy Institute, Vanessa Fry, launched the institute alongside Director Greg Hill in 2016. 

“We work directly with the decision makers at the capitol, including the governor, and the representatives and senators to understand what sort of information would be helpful for them to know when considering policy and programmatic decisions,” Fry said.

The Idaho Public Policy team annually briefs the governor’s office and staff, holds meetings with the majority and minority parties in both the house and the senate and gives individual briefings for any elected officials interested in the survey’s results according to Fry. 

The Idaho Public Policy team gives multiple presentations to the community at different events, including a presentation at Boise State. 

The Idaho Public Policy survey results showcase will be hosted by The Idaho Policy Institute and the Dean of the School of Public Service at the Alumni and Friends Center on Feb. 13 from 5:30 p.m to 7 p.m. 

Report authors May, McGinnis-Brown and Fry will present on the data. 

Idahoans have listed education, jobs, and the economy as their top three legislative concerns for 2024. 

“Education always has been at the very top of that list,” Fry said, referring to the last nine years of Education topping the list as Idaho’s most important issue.  

Access and affordability of housing, commuting traffic and population growth are other concerns from survey respondents. 

The 2024 survey found that 43% of survey respondents feel the state of Idaho is off on the wrong track. 

The 2023 survey found 44% of Idahoans believed the state was heading in the right direction, while 41% believed it was heading in the wrong direction. 

“So last year it was within the margin of error,” Fry said. “Which was like 3.1% … this was the first time that the static result of the, ‘off in the wrong direction’ was above ‘on the right track.’”

The next annual survey will be available for the public in January 2025.

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