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New data: Growth a top concern; Many newcomers from California, but they’re like existing residents

The annual Idaho Public Policy survey from the Boise State School of Public Service shows a stable attitude toward the state – but growth remains a top concern.

Of all the issues identified, more folks cited growth as a concern than any other:

Idaho Public Policy Survey

“This is a change over previous years. This year we saw growth pop up to the top of the list. It was in the 4-5 range in previous years,” Dr. Jeff Lyons said. “The concern about growth is mostly concentrated here in the Treasure Valley. In most of the rest of the state, the top concern is education.”

Of the 1,000 people surveyed across the state, 56.6% said the state is growing too fast. 35.4% think the growth rate is about right.

Happy with Idaho’s direction

Overall, the survey found folks remain happy with the direction of the state.

“What we see and we’ve seen this for years now, Idahoans are pretty happy with Idaho,” Dr. Greg Hill with Boise State said. “Whether it’s taxes or right direction/wrong direction – residents are pretty happy and that’s been stable.”

A majority of folks who responded say they think the state is on the right track – 55.6%. Just 30.2% say the state is headed the wrong direction.

New Idahoans like old Idahoans

The survey asked if folks lived in the state their whole life. A majority – 63.6% did not. That could mean they moved away for a time or started life somewhere else.

Of the residents who lived somewhere else before Idaho, the largest group came from California.

“People think perhaps there’s a Californication of Idaho going on – where Idaho becomes more blue or democratic,” Lyons said. “What we’ve seen in this survey and what we’ve seen in previous surveys is that is just not the case.”

Both Idahoans who recently arrived in the state and those who spent more than ten years or more in the state have a similar makeup.

“While we might think Californians and that means Democrats – that’s not who we are seeing move here,” Lyons said.

  • 56% of residents who’ve been in Idaho ten years or more identify as Republican.
  • 59% of residents who’ve been in Idaho ten years or less identify as Republican.

Support remains for local option

The survey again probed for support for a local option tax. Lyons said the results remain about the same as in past years.

Idaho Public Policy Survey

Many of Idaho’s largest cities continue to push for a local option, which would allow them to raise sales tax for locally-directed projects like roads or transit. But currently, Idaho law doesn’t allow this except in resort areas like Ketchum.

  • 61.5% of Idahoans either strongly or somewhat favor “giving every city in Idaho the ability to vote on a local option tax.
  • 52.1% would support a local option for public transportation.
  • 56.8% would support a local option for roads and bridges.

[Gov. Little interview: more money for transit, HOV lanes and that local option tax talk]

“What we can say with confidence is that more Idahoans report favoring a local option sales tax to support transportation improvements than report opposing them,” the report’s authors noted.

“There may be support for these types of plans could be popular at the ballot box,” Lyons said.

You can read the full report here.

Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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