ATLANTA – Georgians overwhelmingly support increased state funding of education and health care, according to a new poll.

Capitol Beat News Service
This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

The survey of 1,071 registered voters in Georgia conducted Aug. 26-31 found strong backing for “people-first” public policies advocated by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI), which commissioned the poll, Caitlin Highland, the Atlanta non-profit’s communications director, said Tuesday.

“Our economy is not inclusive of every person in our state,” she said. “We need to invest in every person and make sure no one is left out.”

The poll, conducted by the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia, found the highest support – 86.8% – was for more funding for Georgia’s pre-kindergarten program to increase the number of available slots.

Nearly three of four Georgians surveyed also supported the state providing tuition-free technical college, while just more than three-quarters supported funding a need-based college scholarship program the state created two years ago but has yet to fund.

In health care, 77.5% of respondents supported steering more state funding toward public health programs.

Just more than 70% endorsed establishing a state version of the earned-income tax credit provided to low- and middle-income taxpayers at the federal level.

The poll found only slightly less support for revenue-raising ideas the GBPI has backed in recent years. A proposal to establish a formal process for evaluating the state’s return on investment on tax exemptions to businesses drew support from 68.7% of respondents.

Almost 66% favored increasing Georgia’s tobacco tax from 37 cents per pack of cigarettes – second lowest in the nation – to the national average of $1.81 a pack.

Caitlin highlighted some GBPI priorities the General Assembly passed into law this year, notably an extension of Medicaid coverage for new mothers to six months. The Medicaid extension was a major 2020 priority of Georgia House Speaker David Ralston.

“These priorities have momentum,” Highland said. “People are hungry to see these solutions.”

The survey results were weighted to ensure it was representative of Georgians by race, sex, age and education.

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.