The legislative session may be over for the year, but lawmakers are still hard at work.
Senator Mark Chelgren sent out surveys to voters in his district, which includes most of Wapello, Jefferson, Van Buren and Davis counties, over the last year. The survey was meant to get constituents' feedback on what issues are important to them and see if the priorities of the Senate matched with the priorities of the people.
"Sometimes I think that as a senator, we get caught up in these microcosms and something that's really important to us because we talked half the session about it, we assume people at home care about," Senator Chelgren said.
The survey asked questions regarding fixing roads and bridges, creating jobs and stopping gun violence, among others. Around 1,000 surveys were collected. One of the most surprising responses was related to education, which was a primary focus of both the Iowa Senate and House of Representatives this year.
"When I sent out the survey, the question was, 'how high of a priority is education to you versus some of these other issues'," said Chelgren. "And when the survey came back, I was absolutely amazed to see that even though something I focused so much time on this last year, people are more concerned about the economy, about jobs and about the tax rates. Which makes sense, that's the stuff that I think before I was a senator, those were things that I worried about. But sometimes, like I said, we get caught up in our own little world and we forget that we're actually here to serve our constituents back home."
Another surprising response was the overwhelming majority supporting Iowa voters to show a state-issued ID before voting. According to the survey, 88% of responders said they support the measure, against 12% that said they didn't.
The entire survey results are as follows:
? Of the following choices, which ONE do you believe should be the top priority of the State of Iowa over the next eighteen months?
Balancing the state budget ?? 32 percent
Creating Jobs ?? 28 percent
Reducing Taxes ?? 25 percent
Fixing our Roads and Bridges ?? 10 percent
Improving our schools - 2 percent
Stopping gun violence - 2 percent
? Would you say the amount you pay in taxes to the STATE government is too high, too low, or about right?
Too High ?? 54 percent
About Right ?? 46 percent
Too Low - .2 percent
? Would you tell your legislator to vote for or to vote against a proposed five cent gas tax increase, if you knew the money would be used to fix Iowa??s roads and bridges?
Vote Against ?? 48 percent
Vote For ?? 41percent
Undecided ?? 11 percent
? If the state legislature voted to cut taxes this year, would you prefer they reduce corporate property taxes, personal income taxes, or residential/personal property taxes?
Residential/Personal Property Taxes ?? 52 percent
Corporate Property Taxes ?? 28 percent
Personal Income Tax - 20 percent
Undecided - 6 percent
? Would you say that the bargaining power of government work unions (which represent state workers, teachers and public safety officers) is too strong, about right or too weak?
Too Strong ?? 64 percent
About Right ?? 16 percent
Unsure ?? 14 percent
Too weak - 5 percent
? How would you describe the Iowa Roads you travel on a daily basis?
Average ?? 51 percent
Below Average ?? 25 percent
Poor ?? 14 percent
Excellent - 5 percent
? Do you support requiring Iowa Voters to show a state-issued photo I.D. before voting?
Yes ?? 88 percent
No ?? 12 percent
? Do you support ending the ability of voters to vote ??straight ticket?? (allowing voters to select an option at the top of the ballot vote for all candidates in a specific party) on their ballots?
Yes ?? 51 percent
No ?? 49 percent
? Should high school students be given workplace readiness tests before they graduate in order to measure their ability to understand technical manuals, do basic math and write well?
Yes ?? 87 percent
No ?? 13 percent
? Of the following reforms to our K-12 public education system, which measure would improve the education our children receive the most? (Many answered more than once)
End Teacher Tenure- Give local principals and superintendents the ability to release teachers who are not performing in the classroom ?? 39 percent
Empower teachers to regain control of their classrooms ?? 32 percent
Require all third grade students to read at grade level before they can be passed to the next grade ?? 21 percent
Merit Pay-Reward our best teachers with higher pay ?? 8 percent