Poll: Chicago voters favor school choice, property tax freeze ahead of Chicago mayoral election

Poll: Chicago voters favor school choice, property tax freeze ahead of Chicago mayoral election

Sixty-five percent of Chicagoans support Illinois’ Invest in Kids school choice program. Despite the city’s problems, a majority of residents want to stay and a majority want the city to freeze property taxes to make living in the city more affordable.

New polling from the Illinois Policy Institute finds a majority of Chicago voters surveyed are dissatisfied with public education in the city and support school choice. They also are worried about crime and taxes, with a majority supporting a property tax freeze.

The poll of 800 Chicago voters was conducted Feb. 15-19 by Echelon Insights. It found just one-third of those polled were satisfied with the city’s current public education system. School choice support was at 62% and Illinois’ only school choice program, Invest in Kids, had even higher support at 65%.

Nearly 80% of Chicago Public Schools 11th graders could not read or perform math at grade level, according to state data from 2022. Half of CPS students are chronically absent.

The Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship program gives low-income students access to scholarships so they can pursue the educations that best fit their needs. It helps more than 9,000 low-income and working-class families apply for grants to non-public schools each year, but the program is set to expire at the end of 2023 unless state lawmakers renew it.

Nearly 60% of Chicagoans want to stay, but crime, taxes push others to go

The poll found 59% want to keep calling it sweet home Chicago, but one-third would consider leaving the city. They said crime was their No. 1 concern, followed by high taxes and affordability.

Of those wanting to move, 85% said crime and safety were the main reason they would leave. Another 39% mentioned the high local taxes and affordability in their open-ended responses.

City data shows crime spiked in 2022 to the highest levels in five years, after 2021 was the deadliest year in the past quarter century. Among Chicagoans planning to cast a ballot, 71% said crime was the most important issue guiding their mayoral vote.

Survey data showed 51% of Chicagoans want more police on the streets to ensure offenders are held accountable when they break the law. Another 45% said they think addressing the root causes of crime, such as poverty and unemployment, would improve safety.

Property tax cap gets strong support

 A property tax cap to keep housing costs down was supported by 69% of the voters polled. During the past 10 years, Chicago’s property tax levy has doubled, growing from $860 million to more than $1.7 billion in 2023. Just in a year, the average bill grew as much as $472.

More than one-fourth of voters said high taxes are the top issue mayoral candidates should be addressing.

The poll found 52% of Chicago voters also support lowering taxes on city business owners.

Read the full poll results here.

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