Poll finds support for increased school aid and higher taxes to support it

By Len Lazarick


New polling results funded by the state teachers union finds broad bipartisan support for increased funding for public education, even if it means “closing corporate loopholes and raising income taxes on the state’s highest earners.”

The poll taken late last month by Gonzales Research was part of the same survey that found 74% approval ratings for the job Gov. Larry Hogan is doing.

But the results of the questions on education would seem to put the same voters at odds with Hogan’s strong opposition to new taxes and strong support of increased funding for private school scholarships.

Hogan has proposed doubling the amount of the $5 million BOOST program that “provides scholarships for low-income students in areas with under-performing schools to attend non-public schools.” CORRECTION, 1/17/2017, 9 p.m. The governor’s budget currently provides $6.3 $5.5 billion for public schools,including teacher retirement, a thousand times the amount it provides in scholarships to private schools.

A state Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (the Kirwan Commission) is currently reexamining funding formulas for public schools. Consultants are recommending that the state spend $1.9 billion more.

Important to all parties

Gonzales Research asked “How important to you is it to have increased funding for public education in Maryland?” 62% of Maryland voters said it was “very important” and 22% said it was “somewhat important.” Only 15% said it was not important.

While the number of those favoring increased school funding was highest among Democrats (93%) and women (87%), it was also strong among Republicans (70%), the unaffiliated (76%) and men (79%).

Asked for a response to the poll, Hogan communications director Doug Mayer said, “The governor has provided for record K-12 public education funding in each of his first two budgets and that incredible trend will continue this year as well.”

Seventy-three percent (73%) of Maryland voters would favor increasing funding for public education in Maryland if this means closing corporate loopholes and raising income taxes on the state’s highest earners (55% “strongly favor” and 18% “somewhat favor”). Twenty-five percent (25%) would oppose increasing funding for schools if it means closing corporate loopholes and raising income taxes on the state’s highest earners (17% “strongly oppose” and 8% “somewhat oppose”).

While the idea is favored strongly by Democrats (81%), it is even supported by 59% of Republicans and 71% of the unaffiliated voters.

“Closing corporate loopholes” are generally legislative code words for a system a corporate taxing system known as “combined reporting” that taxes more corporate profit. Maryland also has among the highest state personal income tax rates for high earners, with some paying as much as 9.25% when county income taxes are included.

Support for universal pre-K

Among voters, 70% favor expanding access to public pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-old kids in the state (52% “strongly favor” and 18% “somewhat favor”), while 23% oppose expanding access to public pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-olds.

Making pre-K available for all students is one of the reasons consultants on the adequacy of funding for education are recommending a large increase in state aid.

The governor is due to release his budget by Wednesday that must resolve a structural deficit that is partly driven by mandated spending such as education aid.

Gonzales Research conducted the poll between Dec. 14 and Jan. 2 contacting 823 registered voters by landline and cell phone. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.5%.

About The Author

Len Lazarick


Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. anonymous

    I don’t understand this philosophy of creating vouchers for private schools, starting charter schools and instead of fixing the public schools. The whole point of public schools is to give all Americans an equal, basic education. And as a state, we’ve never been able to do that. It seems to me that states are pushing for these things bc they simply don’t want to deal with education anymore. Why don’t we ever work on fixing what we have?

  2. Arrow

    I love these polling results sponsored by the very agency that will benefit by more money. More money to do what…..turn out more idiots who can’t read or write, do basic math and in many cases do not regularly attend classes. An agency I worked for had to hire a teacher to teach basic reading, writing and very simple math. This agency was in Montgomery County, so you can’t say the folks were from a fringe school district. They could not read instructions on pesticide labels on how to mix, apply and the cautions for use of pesticides. They also could not write performance evaluations or read and understand a newspaper. So, tell me again why I should feel good about raising my taxes for education. Frankly, I would rather pound it down a rat hole. The results would be the same. I say show us concrete results without spinning them as all politicians do. Institute a trades program in high schools so we can find a plumber or electrician. Not all students need to go to college and many do not want to, but our brilliant politicians and educators feel the need to shove all students through the same knot hole to prepare for college even if the student shows no interest in college. You know what they say…people who keep doing the same thing expecting different results are idiots. I rest my case!

  3. Dale McNamee

    And this is why I call Marylanders “morons”… The products of the public school system… And we need more of that ! /sarcasm

    In Baltimore County, there were 10 ballot issues requesting more bond issuing for increased funding for schools and other “essential projects”… Said increase comes at increased property taxes but the mullets still approved them…

    A small side note… I am on fixed income and my property taxes increased due to spending on sewers and an increased assessment of $2,000 in the value of my house…
    My mortgage payment went from $986.00/month to $1,103.00/month…

    • Arrow

      Dale, you got it exactly right! Pay the rich and tax the poor. I am sick of the poor brainwashed people in Maryland who would vote for the devil himself because he told them to do it. Then they bitch for four years about how government is not helping them, and vote for the same crooked SOB again. God help us.

  4. Adam Meister

    “New polling results funded by the state teachers union find” Funded by the freaking lazy parasite union that does not give a darn about children. These pigs do not deserve a penny from tax payers. Fire them all!

  5. paul rankin

    Yet another non-contextual poll that effectively asks the following: Would you support spending more money on education if we taxed other people and not you?

    Even I would respond “yes” to that question. However, I think it might be useful to specify which corporate loopholes are in play and what is meant by the phrase “highest earners.”

  6. Mike from Chestertown

    Most probably the majority, if any at all, of the seventy-three percent (73%) of Maryland voters that favor increasing funding for public education in Maryland by closing corporate loopholes, and raising income taxes on the state’s highest earners, are not the business leaders of those corporations, or are among the highest earners in the state. How easy it is for them to want to spend other peoples money. Interestingly 27% don’t favor it. Wonder who these folks are? Better management of the tax payer money already received by the state would produce the results asked for by the seventy-three percent (73%). Historically, results have shown the Dems that control this state [and some municipalities] don’t do a very good job of managing my/our money. Waste, fraud, money poured into the ‘financial black whole’ known at Baltimore City by the dump truck load; fixing that will produce more money for edu.

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