Poll: Optimism about state’s direction declines, Marylanders OK with raising taxes to help schools

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Gov. Larry Hogan at a Baltimore Coca-Cola bottling plant in March 2018. Photo by Joe Andrucyk, via Flickr.

Gov. Larry Hogan has maintained inordinately high support as a Republican in deeply blue Maryland, though residents aren’t feeling quite as rosy about the direction of the state, according to the latest poll from Goucher College.

Sixty-four percent of Marylanders said they approve of Hogan’s performance as governor. But the same survey, conducted Sept. 13-18, found a marked drop in the proportion of Marylanders who say the state is, in the poll’s wording, “headed in the right direction.”

Forty-six percent said so, down from 54 percent at this time last year and from 59 percent this past spring. Thirty-five percent said Maryland is “headed off on the wrong track,” up from 30 percent in fall of 2018 and 25 percent this past spring.

On the issue of public education spending, which is coming front and center heading into the 2020 legislative session, voters indicated they’re prepared to help pay for reforms that Hogan has opposed. Seventy percent of those surveyed said they think Maryland spends too little on education, and 74 percent said they support personally paying more in taxes to improve public schools.

The Washington Post reported last week that Hogan is raising “dark money” to fight those backing a multi-billion dollar plan from the Kirwan Commission to boost public education.

The panel last winter recommended expanding free pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds for a broader range of low-income families, revamping college-preparedness testing, increasing attention to retaining teachers and creating an oversight board to make sure the state is funding its proposals.

Hogan has said he supports their goals, but is now reportedly fundraising to drum up public opposition, citing concerns about costs shared by fellow Republicans.

A remarkably small share of voters said they actually know about the Kirwan Commission, a state education reform panel headed by former University of Maryland president William “Brit” Kirwan. Seventy-seven percent said they have heard or read “nothing at all” about the commission that’s been studying for years how to improve Maryland’s public schools.

On the matter of transportation spending, 43 percent said they think the state spends too little on public transportation, while a higher share, 54 percent, said Maryland isn’t spending enough on roads and highways. About half of respondents said they would support personally paying more in taxes on both public transit and roads.

The poll, available to read in full here, surveyed 763 adults in Maryland and has a 3.6 percent margin of error. Today’s results are only day one; Goucher College plans to release more survey data tomorrow and Wednesday.

Ethan McLeod
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