New Goucher College Poll: Marylanders support education improvements, not more taxes

Posted at 1:18 AM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 11:07:32-05

TOWSON, Md — A new Goucher College Poll shows Marylanders support public school improvements but are still largely unaware of the Kirwan Commission, aimed at doing just that.

The General Assembly is now considering the Blueprint for Maryland's Future, a bill to transform the public school funding formula to improve education for all students based off of recommendations from the Kirwan Commission.

"We have a major educational overhaul happening in the state, getting pushed through the general assembly and what we find is by and large, Marylanders are behind some of the key components of the Kirwan Commission," said Dr. Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College.

While 69 percent of those polled said they have heard or read “nothing at all” about the commission, the majority support the initiatives in the recommendations:

  • 93 percent agree that “public schools should offer more job or vocational training programs,” 4 percent disagree.
  • 85 percent agree that “the salaries of public school teachers are too low,” 10 percent disagree.
  • 76 percent agree that “many public school buildings and facilities in Maryland are run-down,” 16 percent disagree.
  • 69 percent agree that “public schools in Maryland don’t receive enough state funding,” 18 percent disagree.

The Kirwan Commission recommends spending nearly $4 billion more annually on education by 2030. Gov. Larry Hogan argues that fully implementing everything would cost $32 billion over those 10 years. The question, reflected in the discourse in Annapolis and in this poll, is how to fund it. The poll shows that 51 percent of Marylanders say that the overall amount of state taxes they have to pay is “too high” and 44 percent say it’s “about right.”

"It's the conflict between pocketbook issues and education issues, you're seeing that come together right now and we have the rest of the legislative session for the lawmakers to decide how exactly they are going to implement the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission," said Kromer.

Lawmakers are considering a bill to expand the sales tax to cover services to pay for the blueprint, equating to about $3 a week in new taxes for the average family.

"Bottom line is we deserve to have the best schools in the country out kids deserve to have access to a great education this is a way we can get there," said Montgomery County Delegate Eric Luedtke, the bill's sponsor. "It's not the only option its one option on the table."

MORE: Lawmakers considering expanding sales tax to fully fund Maryland schools

The poll shows most don't support it. Neither does Hogan.

"It is a tax on working families. It's a tax on single moms," said Hogan. "It would destroy our economy."

"Since government should reflect the will of the people, I think it’s a good thing that the same sort of debates we're having by our elected lawmakers in Annapolis both those in the ga as well as gov. hogan are also what Marylanders really feel.

More from the poll:


  • Nearly three-quarters of Maryland residents say they prefer an income tax system where “people with higher incomes pay a higher tax rate than those with lower incomes.”
  • 37 percent would rather keep state services and taxes about the same as we have them now.
  • 28 percent would rather have more or improved state government services if that meant more taxes.

Governor Hogan:

  • 62 percent of Marylanders approve of the job Larry Hogan is doing as governor, 20 percent disapprove, and 17 percent say they don’t know.

General Assembly:

  • 41 percent of Marylanders approve of the job the Maryland General Assembly is doing; 27 percent disapprove, and 29 percent say they don’t know.

Perception of Maryland:

  • 49 percent say Maryland is heading in the right direction, and 32 percent say Maryland is off on the wrong track. At this time last year, 59 percent said Maryland was heading in the right direction.
  • 20 percent of Marylanders identify crime and criminal justice as the most important issue facing the state of Maryland today.
  • 17 percent say education and 15 percent of Marylanders identify economic issues—jobs, taxes, or economic growth—as the most important.
  • 61 percent rate Maryland as a “good” or “excellent” place to raise a family.
  • 58 percent rate Maryland as a “good” or “excellent” place to find a job.
  • 47 percent rate Maryland as a “good” or “excellent” place to get a quality K-12 education.
  • 39 percent rate Maryland as a “good” or “excellent” place to run a business.
  • 27 percent rate Maryland as a “good” or “excellent” place to retire.
  • Marylanders are a happy group of folks. 30 percent and 61 percent say they are “very happy” or “pretty happy,” respectively. Only 8 percent say they are “not too happy.”

Sports Betting:

  • 47 percent support expanding gambling to allow sports betting online in Maryland; 43 percent oppose.
  • 45 percent support expanding gambling to allow sports betting at locations like race tracks, casinos, or stadiums in Maryland; 49 percent oppose.

Concerns Over Coronavirus

  • 56 percent of Marylanders are “somewhat” or “very” concerned over an outbreak of a disease like the Coronavirus, and 43 percent of Maryland residents are “not at all” or “a little” concerned.

Back in October 2014 and September 2016, the Goucher College Poll asked Marylanders about two outbreaks impacting them at the time:

  • In 2014, 66 percent were “somewhat” or “very” concerned over an outbreak of a disease like Ebola.
  • In 2016, 64 percent were “somewhat” or “very” concerned over an outbreak of a disease like the Zika virus.

This Goucher College Poll was conducted from February 13-18. For the full results of the poll, click here.

The second part of this Goucher College Poll focused on Maryland's upcoming democratic presidential primary election and how Democrats stack up to President Trump right now. The results of that poll will be released Tuesday at 12:01 a.m.