The seventh annual Hoosier Survey of public opinion on issues facing the state indicates job creation is a top priority for Indiana residents.

The Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University partnered again with WISH-TV, Channel 8, Indianapolis, in sponsoring the poll.

The results of this non-partisan survey are delivered to every member of the Indiana General Assembly and top administration officials at the beginning of the calendar year so that lawmakers can gauge public views about issues they are likely to face in the upcoming legislative session.

Complete findings and methodology are available at www.bowencenterforpublicaffairs.org.

Click here to download a PDF document covering the findings.

The survey was conducted for WISH TV/Ball State University by Princeton Survey Research International from October 7-15.

Results are based on 600 completed interviews with 360 landline respondents and 240 cell phone respondents (including 120 adults with no landline phone). The margin of error is ±5.1%.

Major findings in the 2014 Hoosier Survey include:

• Job creation continues as the number one priority for Hoosiers, with 78% (slightly less than last year’s 83%) saying job creation should be at the top of the legislative agenda. This year we also asked about crime and public safety. Reducing crime was named the second highest priority at 69%. Improving local schools ranked third at 67%. Protecting the environment rose slightly to attain fourth place. Immigration reform climbed 7% this year to rank fifth in importance.

• Hoosiers continue to express satisfaction with the quality of public services, with few noticing major differences in service delivery across a host of areas, ranging from road maintenance to public schools. However, Hoosiers report increased satisfaction with parks and recreation, as well as with the delivery of fire and police protection services.

• Hoosiers continue to express high levels of satisfaction with public schools, with three-quarters (75%) saying they are very or somewhat satisfied with public schools, a number somewhat larger than last year’s 66% with little regional variation.

• There is widespread support (82%) for expanding fully-funded pre-kindergarten programs for all Hoosier children beyond the five pilot counties approved by the General Assembly last year. There is also support (68%) for increasing education spending by 3% to cover the cost of textbooks for all public school children in the state.

• By a large margin (71%), Hoosiers believe education policy-making should be shared between the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. This finding holds across political parties.

• While Hoosiers are evenly split over whether public officials in Indiana are generally held accountable for their actions, two-thirds believe the state needs to strengthen ethics laws to ensure elected officials behave ethically.

• A plurality of Hoosiers (39%) say that the state should hold onto its budget surplus for a rainy day. However, 31% believe the state should spend some of the surplus to fund programs that faced cuts in recent years, including education, job creation and retraining, fire and police protection, and highways and roads. A third option, using the surplus to help fund a cut in the business personal property tax, is favored by 22%.

• While the average Hoosier does not see racial disparity in the treatment of individuals by police, there is a wide gulf between the views of whites (72% of whom believe the races are treated equally) and blacks (67% of whom believe blacks are treated less fairly than whites).

• Support for same-sex marriage in Indiana is holding steady at 47%. There is wide variation by age and political party, with younger Hoosiers and Democrats as the most supportive. A majority (56%) also believe that Indiana should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Given the confusion over state and federal court rulings, Hoosiers believe (71%) that the Supreme Court should have ruled once and for all on the constitutionality of same-sex marriages rather than refusing to hear challenges by the states.

• Hoosiers are split over the potential impact of President Obama’s environmental policies for reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants with 42% saying they haven’t yet heard enough to form an opinion about the policies.

• Hoosiers support Sunday sales of liquor (52%) and permitting the sale of cold beer in supermarkets and convenience stores (57%).

• Hoosiers have significantly more trust in state government than they do in the government in Washington. Forty-five percent trust the state government to do what is right all or most of the time, while only 21% feel the same way about the national government. Higher levels of trust translate into favorable ratings for state officials, including Governor Pence with an approval rating of 62% and the General Assembly with an approval rating of 57%. Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has an approval rating of just under fifty percent; however, over a quarter of Hoosiers (28%) still do not know enough about her to have formed an opinion.

• Fifty-five percent of Hoosiers do not believe the National Football League has done enough to reduce acts of domestic violence by its players, with a slight plurality (47%) believing players convicted of such acts should be banned from the game for life.

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