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kentucky Living’s Survey On Leading Kentucky Issues

• Don’t raise taxes.

• Kentucky schools may be improving.

Kentucky Living readers offered those opinions in the readership survey printed in the October magazine. We received more than 8,000 survey responses in the poll we conduct every four years to collect your views in advance of the November election for governor and the January beginning of the legislative session.

Tax questions produced some of the most clear-cut answers in the survey. Nearly three-fourths of those responding said, “We should not raise taxes” to reduce the state’s budget deficit.

Most respondents, 57 percent, said they had not been negatively affected by previous state budget cuts to balance the budget. However, a strong minority of 41 percent said they or someone they knew had been hurt by the cuts last spring.

If taxes must be raised, readers prefer so-called sin taxes. If the legislature did raise taxes, we asked readers to rate different types of taxes with 1 being the least responsible kind to raise and 10 being the most responsible. They gave an average rating of 8.1 to taxing gaming such as horse racing, slot machines, and casino gambling. Raising cigarette taxes averaged 6.4. The least popular ways to raise state income were allowing local sales taxes, increasing the gasoline tax, and raising property taxes, all with average ratings of less than 4.

The survey also focused on education, including a question we’ve asked every four years since 1995. Comparing those results shows readers giving schools higher grades during the last eight years—although those marks are still pretty low.

On the question, “Do you believe our system of education in Kentucky adequately prepares students for a good future in our society?” respondents were nearly split, with 48 percent answering “No” and 43 percent saying “Yes.”

But those numbers have steadily improved over the years, with 1995’s identically worded question resulting in 51 percent no and 37 percent yes.

In a series of questions about computer and Internet use, three out of four respondents said they use a computer at home or at work. When it comes to accessing the Internet, 43 percent said they have a dial-up connection at home, 8 percent said they have high-speed broadband service in their home, 12 percent said they access the Internet at work, and 6 percent at a public library.

And readers use the Internet more, compared with the results four years ago. Since 1999 the percentage of readers saying they use the Internet for educational research and information has increased from 39 percent to 77 percent. Those who used a credit card for on-line purchases increased from 8 percent four years ago, to 33 percent last fall.

For the full results of the Kentucky Living reader survey, including answers to questions on the war in Iraq, the death penalty, and allowing smoking in public buildings, click here: 2003 survey

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