There's a new Elway poll that has some good news for the GOP. Asked if they thought the majority senate coaltion—the Majority Coalition Caucus, which is dominated by Republicans—would have a negative or positive impact on the upcoming legislative session, 46 percent said the MCC would have a positive impact. (Thirty-nine percent said it would have a negative impact.)
Curiously, more voters (35 percent to 21 percent) thought the MCC had a negative impact than a positive impact on the recent 2013 session, when the MCC took control.
Last session, the MCC blocked several high-profile progressive bills passed by the Democratic house, including the DREAM Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Reproductive Parity Act. They also torpedoed the transportation package.
The biggest group of those polled, 43 percent, felt the MCC's impact was neutral last time.
Voters were more optimistic this year than they were after the 2013 session about the effect of having a “fiscally conservative coalition” control the State Senate. Some 46% thought the Coalition made it more likely that the 2014 legislature will “make significant progress on the issues you care most about.” Going into the 2013 session, 41% thought the emergence of the Coalition made it more likely that “significant progress” would be made. At the end of last year’s session, a 43% plurality of voters thought the Coalition had had a largely neutral effect on the session, but only 21% thought the overall effect had been positive.
Voters' top issue this year—by far—is the economy, as it has been for several years. Transportation is far down on the list. Education is second on the list as the legislature remains under the watch of the State Supreme Court, which has mandated that the state adequately fund K-12 education; the legislature increased education funding last year by 6.7 percent (above and beyond the regular adjustments for inflation and to reflect ever-increasing costs), increasing K-12 funding from $13.6 billion to $15.2 billion.
Of the extra $982 million, much of the money ($521 million) came from one-time fixes and fund transfers, defying the court's mandate for stable funding. Legislators won't have to truly deal with the next K-12 budget, the 2015-17 budget, until the 2015 session, when they'll need to increase spending by an estimated $3.3 billion to keep moving forward on the court's mandate to fully fund K-12 by 2018.
Elway released a poll yesterday (linked in today's Fizz) that showed increased optimism among voters after the the machinists' union rank and file voted to approve the Boeing contract.