POLL: Texans want pot, alcohol and oil to pay for public education

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas lawmakers will try and revamp the Texas education system before May and in a new poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune, Texans want to pay for it by legalizing marijuana, raising taxes on alcohol, and redirecting oil and gas taxes. 

The poll released Monday asked 1,200 hundred Texans how specifically they want to pay to boost education.

  • 60 percent of Texans said lawmakers should legalize marijuana and tax it
  • 58 percent said lawmakers should redirect oil and gas taxes to education from the state’s savings account or ‘rainy day fund’ 
  • 57 percent of Texans want lawmakers to increase the alcoholic beverage tax to boost education. 

This poll comes out the same day the Texas Senate approved a teacher pay raise bill that would raise all teacher and librarian salaries by $5,000 a year. 

“We heard about the healthcare cost that are consuming more and more of our teacher’s paychecks,” said author of SB 3, Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, “We know that teachers are dipping into their own personal funds to pay for classroom supplies. Our teachers are struggling financially.” 

The House leadership is expected to roll out their school reform measures on Tuesday.

Expectations and results

“They’ve got to be careful to not disappoint people,” said Jim Henson pollster for UT’s Texas Politics Project.

Henson said while there’s bipartisan support for priority items in the legislature – property taxes and school finance reform overall – there are some specifics that do split Republicans from Democrats.

Take for example, legalizing and taxing marijuana to put funds towards education.

“It’s very lopsided. Democrats are almost uniformly in favor of that idea. Republican public opinion is much more divded so that number is high but I don’t think we should look at that as a likely source of revenue,” said Henson.

The same poll showed Texans know how they don’t want to pay.

Only around sixteen percent want to pay for education by raising the gas tax or sales tax and a similar number wants to start a state income tax, around seventeen percent.

“The downside for them (lawmakers) is, they have to respond now,” said Henson, “And these are very difficult things to act on. 

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