Survey: Michigan residents say roads bigger problem than education

Michigan State University survey reveals more residents concerned about roads than education

EAST LANSING, Mich. – More Michigan residents would put fixing the state's roads ahead of boosting the quality of its education system, according to a survey conducted by Michigan State University researchers.

The survey was conducted this past spring as the May 5 roads ballot initiative was being debated and then put to a vote.

While 32 percent of survey respondents cited jobs and the state economy as the top problem in 2015 for Michigan, 20 percent cited the state's roads, bridges and highways as the top problem.

The quality and finances of Michigan's education system came in 3rd on the list of problems -- 15 percent of survey respondents cited it as the top problem in 2015. That percentage is down 17 percent from a 2014 survey.

"I would be surprised if such a large number of people continue to say that roads are one of the top issues next year, but that depends partly on whether the Legislature can pass a road-funding package," said Charles Ballard, survey director and MSU professor of economics. "Of course, getting anything through the Legislature is very hard. And because opposition to taxes is so strong, it seems very likely that whatever package is passed will leave us far short of the funding that would bring our roads up to the standards of much of the rest of the country."

Moreover, the survey gauged residents' trust in government. The results show residents trust local government more than state or federal. According to the university, when asked how often they can trust local government, 41 percent of respondents said "nearly all or most of the time." When it came to state government, that figure dropped to 20 percent. With the federal government, it dipped even further to 16 percent.

This was a telephone survey of 966 Michigan adults conducted between March 26 and June 22. The margin of error is 3.15 percent, according to the university.