An overwhelming majority of Georgians want the state to invest in people-first strategies including expanded access to education and mental health services, while raising new revenue to pay for them, according to a Mason-Dixon statewide poll conducted this month.

People-Powered Prosperity details a new vision for how Georgia can pursue people-first strategies and ways to responsibly pay for them.

“We’re thrilled that the poll revealed widespread support for GBPI’s People-Powered Prosperity vision,” said Taifa Butler, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s executive director. “Georgians across the state endorse the pillars of our plan to build a stronger and more inclusive economy, focused on educated youth, skilled workers, thriving families and healthy communities.”

Georgians strongly support more affordable higher education options, including funding for the state’s new need-based financial aid program and tuition-free post-secondary technical training to develop skilled workers.

Nearly nine in 10 Georgians surveyed support more state spending to better screen, diagnose and treat people who suffer from mental health or substance abuse problems.

The GBPI-commissioned poll of 625 Georgia voters found broad support for generating additional state revenue to pay for new investments in things like education and health services by raising tobacco taxes and enacting a minimum tax on Georgia corporations.

Nearly nine in 10 poll respondents want the state to scrutinize the return on investment Georgia gets from hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks that deplete the state treasury.

Nearly two in three poll respondents support leveraging federal dollars to put an insurance card in the pockets of hundreds of thousands of Georgians to give them access to affordable health care. A proposed Georgia Work Credit drew similar support.

Other poll highlights include:

  • 72 percent of poll respondents said they support increased funding to meet the education needs of Georgia’s students if a study supports it.
  • 69 percent of poll respondents support a state school funding formula that sends more money to districts that serve a large number of students from families in poverty.
  • 71 percent of Georgians favor increased state spending for the state’s subsidized child care program to serve more working families.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy is an independent research firm that conducts public policy and political polling research and has been polling Georgia voters for 20 years.

Below is the full list of poll questions and results:

QUESTION 1: Georgia’s school funding formula is nearly 35 years old and there is bipartisan agreement that it doesn’t meet the needs of students or taxpayers. How important is it that Georgia review and update the state’s school funding formula? Is it very important, somewhat important, not too important or not important at all?

Very Important Somewhat Important Not Too Important Not Important Not Sure
61% 18% 10% 7% 4%

QUESTION 2: If a study finds increased funding is required to meet the education needs of Georgia’s students, would you support or oppose increases in education funding?

Support Oppose Undecided
72% 15% 13%

QUESTION 3: Sixty-one percent (61%) of Georgia students come from economically disadvantaged homes- living on or near the poverty line. Seventy percent (70%) of Georgia school superintendents say that poverty is the number one barrier to improving academic performance. Would you support or oppose a school funding formula that provides needed additional resources to districts serving a lot of students living at or below the poverty line?

Support Oppose Undecided
69% 22% 9%

QUESTION 4: Georgia is one of two states in the country that does not fund need-based financial aid to help students from low-income families afford college. This year, Georgia legislators created a need-based aid program to help more students afford college. The program, however, has not been funded. Would you support or oppose state funding for a need-based financial aid program to make college more affordable?

Support Oppose Undecided
82% 11% 7%

QUESTION 5: In order to meet the growing demand for technically skilled jobs, grow the economy and tax base in Georgia, would you support or oppose tuition-free post-secondary technical training in Georgia?

Support Oppose Undecided
75% 14% 11%

QUESTION 6: Child care costs have soared in recent decades. Sending a Georgia infant or toddler to a child care center costs an average of $7,300 a year. Would you support or oppose an increase in funding for the state’s subsidized child care program in order to serve more working families?

Support Oppose Undecided
71% 15% 14%

QUESTION 7: Most states support working families who earn low wages through a tax credit to help them make ends meet, encourage work and help families moving out of poverty. Georgia does not. Do you support or oppose a Georgia Work Credit?

Support Oppose Undecided
62% 17% 21%

QUESTION 8: There are 240,000 Georgians who earn low incomes and lack affordable options for health insurance. Georgia’s leaders can put an insurance card in their pockets by bringing home billions of federal dollars meant to pay for coverage. Do you support or oppose leveraging federal money to help more uninsured Georgians afford health care?

Support Oppose Undecided
64% 23% 13%

QUESTION 9: About 1.3 million Georgia adults suffered with a diagnosed mental illness in the past year. In addition, drug overdose deaths in Georgia rose by 35 percent from 2012 to 2016, mainly due to the nationwide opioid epidemic. Do you support or oppose increased state funding to better screen, diagnose and treat Georgians who suffer from mental health or substance abuse issues?

Support Oppose Undecided
87% 6% 7%

QUESTION 10: At 37 cents per pack, Georgia charges the third lowest cigarette tax in the nation. Four neighboring states — Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina — all raised tobacco tax rates in recent years. Increasing the state’s cigarette tax by $1 per pack could raise more than $400 million annually while also helping to discourage tobacco use. Do you support or oppose raising Georgia’s cigarette tax by $1 per pack?

Support Oppose Undecided
76% 17% 7%

QUESTION 11: Each year, Georgia foregoes hundreds of millions of dollars through various credits and incentives to private companies. Some tax breaks may provide a good return on investment, but others fail to deliver enough benefit to provide a good return on investment to taxpayers. Would you support or oppose an evaluation of large corporate tax breaks to determine their effectiveness as part of the review and renewal process of such tax credits?

Support Oppose Undecided
88% 6% 6%

QUESTION 12: Currently, about 90 percent of businesses that file corporate income tax returns in Georgia report no taxable income. One option common in other states is a having a corporate minimum tax, which ensures all corporate entities help pay for public services and capital improvements. Would you support or oppose enacting a corporate minimum tax in Georgia to ensure profitable corporations doing business in the state provide more financial assistance for roads, bridges, schools and other public services?

Support Oppose Undecided
78% 12% 10%

This poll was commissioned by GBPI and conducted from July 9 through July 11, 2018.  It included 625 registered Georgia voters interviewed statewide by telephone. Respondents included proportionate numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents; white and African-American voters. It covered a wide range of ages and regions.

See full poll results.

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