As the Legislature reaches the end of its 2007 session, a new statewide poll shows that Oregonians think public education, illegal immigration and health care are the most important issues for state officials to address.
The poll for The Oregonian newspaper and KGW-TV showed that 21 percent of randomly selected Oregon residents picked public education as the top state issue. Twelve percent of those surveyed chose illegal immigration as the biggest issue and 9 percent cited affordable health care.
Education is typically near the top of the list, but illegal immigration has come on strong as Congress weighs legislation that could lead to eventual U.S. citizenship for millions of undocumented workers.
"When you see numbers like this, it really suggests the issue has ripened," said Adam Davis of the independent Portland polling firm Davis, Hibbitts Midghall, which conducted the survey.
Surveyors asked respondents an open-ended question about issues of top concern. Many topics got mentioned, including traditional worries such as taxes, government waste and environmental protection.
"What struck us is there is no one issue that Oregonians have come together on and said, 'That's the issue we want our government officials to do something about,'" Davis said.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, and was conducted June 13-18. Davis said one of the reasons that illegal immigration got mentioned so often was because newspapers, TV news shows and talk-radio shows have been full of stories and opinions about immigration, much of it stemming from the June 12 raid and arrests at Fresh Del Monte Produce in Portland.
Oregon lawmakers are finishing their legislative session this week without an immigration reform plan. The House approved several immigration bills, including one that would punish employers caught hiring illegal immigrants. That bill, and most others on immigration, did not make it through the Senate.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski supported the House measures, but thinks Congress &
not Oregon &
is the appropriate place to decide the issue, said Anna Richter Taylor, the governor's spokeswoman.
"Immigration is ultimately a federal issue," she said.
Education, immigration top state poll