Things That Make You Say “Awww”

People voting for increased funding for early childhood programs? By raising taxes? In tony Vail and surrounding towns?

Stranger things have happened.

Eagle County Commissioners voted 2-0 (one absent) to put an initiative on the ballot this November that would put $2 to $3 million by raising taxes into county early childhood programs for kids between birth and six years old, reports the Vail Daily.

The commissioners took the issue to ballot after a survey of 400 registered county voters conducted by Summit County-based Venturoni Surveys and Research showed that just over 50 percent of voters supported putting in $2 million and just under 50 percent said they would vote for $3 million.

A close look at the details of the survey yields some fascinating findings that may just make you have some warm, fuzzy feelings about humanity. Or at least about the fine folks in Eagle County:

  • Sixty-four percent of the respondents were 45 or older, and 54 percent either had no kids or their kids had already grown and left the house. These are people who would not benefit directly from the spending.
  • Support seems to cross party lines. Twenty-seven percent of the people surveyed are Democrats, 33 percent are Republicans, and thirty-two percent are independents.
  • When given details about why early childhood programs are important, the percentage of people who supported the more expensive $3 million plan went up from 46.5 percent to 49.5 percent.

The caveat: what’s missing in the survey details is specific information on the breakdown of how the different demographic groups supported the spending. (Stop here, while you put on your SAT hat.) However, if roughly 50 percent of the population supports the spending plan, that means that, for example, they can’t be all Democrats, or all Republicans, or all independents. They have to be a mix of at least two of the parties. If 64 percent of people surveyed are 45 or older, then it follows that 36 percent are under 45. Even if every person under 45 said he or she would vote in favor of the plan, a healthy chunk of the older population would also need to support it.

When I was a kid, my dad used to talk about certain relatives of mine, who will remain nameless, who refused to support school taxes after their kids had left the house, saying that the issue didn’t concern or benefit them. Come November, the residents of Eagle County will get the chance to show, as the survey seems to indicate, that they are more community minded.

[cross posted on]