Say That In English 

Idahoans in fast-growing parts of the state say they're dissatisfied with services provided by city and county governments, and they widely support local-level planning and zoning. That's according to this year's Public Policy Survey, put out last week by Boise State's Department of Public Policy and Administration. The annual survey, now in its 18th year, tends to be the bellwether of Idaho attitudes. Stephanie Witt, the director of the public policy center, said when Idahoans rank their preferences for local government operations, they think local.

"Idahoans have the most trust in their local governments," Witt said.

The survey contacted 513 adults in Idaho households from across six geographic regions in late 2006 and early 2007.

Not surprisingly, education remained the top issue for those polled. The issue has been at the top before.

But Witt noted the issue of growth has made a startling jump in the minds of Idahoans in terms of priority issues facing the state. When asked about the top three "most important" issues facing the state, education got the majority response, 27 percent, followed by jobs/wages/economy at 22 percent. But close behind that was growth, at 21 percent. That's a 10-point increase over the previous year, Witt said.

"I think an interesting thing here is how growth has become more important to people," Witt said.

Other growth issues resonated with those polled, and could make transit backers in the Treasure Valley happy: More than 50 percent of those polled supported the development of mass transit where they live.

But Witt was "personally dismayed" by the overwhelming number of those who said they "strongly agree" that Idaho should adopt an English-only policy for the state. More than 56 percent of those surveyed felt that way, she said.

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