11/22/04 Contact: Jim Seroka, 334/844-4781 (jseroka@auburn.edu)
David M. Granger, 334/844-9999 (grangdm@auburn.edu)

ASK ALABAMA POLL: ALABAMIANS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT STATE'S PROGRESS; JOBS, HEALTH, SCHOOLS REMAIN TOP CONCERNS

AUBURN -- More than half of Alabamians are confident that elected leaders are moving the state in a positive direction, but say job creation, health care and improving schools continue to be urgent issues they want state officials to address.

These are among the findings of the fall Ask Alabama public opinion survey, conducted by the Center for Governmental Services at Auburn University. Ask Alabama releases monthly results of polls on topics of interest to Alabamians.

According to Ask Alabama's October telephone survey of 1,018 Alabamians, three-quarters of citizens polled ranked economic development and jobs as their number one concern, followed closely by access to healthcare and affordable medicines, and K-12 education.

"Alabamians remain focused on traditional concerns like jobs and schools, but it's important for policymakers to pay attention to the concerns citizens have about access to healthcare and affordable prescriptions," said Ask Alabama poll director, Jim Seroka. "These are two emerging policy issue areas, and the public now expects Alabama's leaders to develop workable and effective responses to them."

Other priorities identified by poll respondents included child welfare and senior services, law enforcement and higher education.

While most Alabamians agree that elected leaders are moving the state in the right direction, they fear much of this progress can be lost through unethical behavior on the part of a few. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed are very concerned about the honesty and integrity of state officials.

"This says much for strengthening the Ethics Commission and the Board of Public Examiners which are the chief guardians of the public trust," noted pollster Seroka.

Other findings of the Ask Alabama poll on state programs and services include:

* Fifty-eight percent of those polled say Alabama's quality of life remains the same, while 19 percent say life in Alabama has improved during the past year; and

* Thirty-eight percent of the respondents consider a new state constitution a high priority.

Complete results of the Ask Alabama poll on state expenditures can be found at www.askalabama.org. The poll, conducted Oct. 12 through Oct. 27, includes a margin of error of plus or minus three.

Ask Alabama is a random quarterly telephone survey of adult Alabamians on issues of interest to Alabamians.

Auburn University is a comprehensive research institution with nearly 23,000 students and 6,500 faculty and staff. Ranked among the top 50 public universities nationally, Auburn is Alabama's largest educational institution, offering more than 230 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs.

(Contributed by Jim Seroka)

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