The Missouri Times: New poll suggests voters could favor education savings accounts for school choice

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Senate bill geared toward providing Missouri families greater choice and flexibility regarding their children’s education has passed the state’s upper chamber. The Missouri Senate on Thursday advanced the legislation seeking to create education savings accounts in the Show-Me State but held back in granting an emergency clause.

SB 313, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, seeks to establish the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, which would provide families the ability to choose their schools and use funds from education savings accounts to use for their child’s elementary and secondary education. The bill would create a new 100 percent state tax credit capped at $25 million per year for taxpayer contributions to third-party organizations.

Koenig-Andrew-2017w-200x300

Koenig

Families under unique circumstances will be taken into account with the formation of education saving accounts (ESAs). ESAs allow for families and children in various positions to pay for tuition, text books, online courses and any other possibility with educational value.

While the bill did pass, the opposition put up an impassioned argument, with Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Couer, pleading with her colleagues to vote down the measure. Schupp argued that passage of SB 313 would be taking a step backward in what the body had done the previous day when they voted to fully fund the education foundation formula. She spoke of the students and families looking to other districts to get the education and services that they require.

“They’re going to go there, and hope that they get the education that they need and deserve. And we’re hopeful that these students with special needs receive that education, which is often calculated at two to three times the cost of the average student,” she said. “We know that kids in foster care do not necessarily have special needs per se, they have lived very different lives. We’re sending the kids with $6200 to another school, which is going to try and meet those special needs. We’re sending them there with no accountability one whether those needs are met on the other end.”

But Koenig argued otherwise, saying that “we’ve heard a mouthful” of misconceptions before asking for the vote. The majority of the Senate sided with Koenig’s bill, with a final vote of 20-12. The Senate, however, denied the emergency clause with a vote of 22-9.

In a recent poll by the Remington Research Group, commissioned by Axiom Strategies, 1,467 voters were asked about their position on education savings accounts. With 50 percent of voters showing support, it seems SB 313 might have a chance at being passed, though there is still a likelihood of opposition.

The entirety of the poll reveals that 36 percent of voters remain opposed to the bill, while 14 percent remain unsure.

Of course, party and political leanings always play into voters’ views towards the bill, with more Democrats and liberals show opposition where their Republican and conservative counterparts show more support.

With that in mind, it’s important to mention that Republicans have been working diligently to educate the public at large as proponents for school choice, with the majority of proponents using digital campaigns and forums across the state to get the message out. Cities including Jefferson City, Columbia, Macon, Poplar Bluff and Hannibal have completed education assemblies for School Choice Missouri.

Current numbers show 63-64 percent of Republican voters endorse school choice for all families, no matter what their circumstance.

You can view the poll results below:

Survey conducted April 22 through April 23, 2017. 1,467 likely voters participated in the survey. Survey weighted to match expected turnout demographics for the 2018 General Election. Margin of Error is +/-2.6%. Totals do not always equal 100% due to rounding.

Q: Do you support or oppose allowing parents to use funds from an education savings account to pay for their children’s elementary and secondary education? The funds could be used on things like tuition, textbooks, online courses and tutoring.

Support: 50%
Oppose: 36%
Unsure: 14%

BY DMA

         

Column %

Columbia

KC

Cape Girardeau

Springfield

St. Louis

Support

55%

45%

47%

49%

54%

Oppose

30%

42%

39%

29%

36%

Unsure

15%

13%

14%

22%

11%

BY PARTY

     

Column %

Republican

Democrat

Non-Partisan

Support

63%

38%

43%

Oppose

25%

47%

42%

Unsure

12%

15%

14%

BY GENDER

   

Column %

Female

Male

Support

48%

52%

Oppose

36%

37%

Unsure

16%

11%

BY AGE

       

Column %

18-39

40-49

50-69

70+

Support

46%

51%

52%

51%

Oppose

40%

40%

37%

30%

Unsure

15%

9%

11%

19%

BY IDEOLOGY

     

Column %

Conservative

Moderate

Liberal

Support

64%

41%

38%

Oppose

22%

45%

50%

Unsure

14%

14%

12%


DEMOGRAPHICS

DMA

 
 

%

Columbia

8%

Joplin

3%

Kansas City

24%

Kirksville

1%

Cape Girardeau

5%

Hannibal

1%

Springfield

15%

St. Joseph

2%

St. Louis

41%

PARTY

 
 

%

Republican

44%

Democrat

35%

Non-Partisan

21%

GENDER

 
 

%

Female

53%

Male

47%

AGE

 
 

%

18-29

7%

30-39

12%

40-49

13%

50-69

43%

70+

25%

RACE

 
 

%

White

87%

African-American

9%

Other

4%

Benjamin Peters contributed to this report.

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