Commonwealth Foundation Survey Provides Voter Insights as Legislature Wraps Up Budget

Harrisburg, Pa., June 27, 2023 — Pennsylvania voters remain pessimistic about Pennsylvania’s economy, and they expect state lawmakers to keep a tight rein on the state budget, according to a new survey conducted for the Commonwealth Foundation.

The survey found that 67 percent of voters believe economic conditions in the commonwealth are “not so good” or “poor,” and 62 percent believe the economy is getting “somewhat worse” or “worse” for them personally.

“Inflation still hurts and impacts lives,” said Nate Benefield, Senior Vice President at the Commonwealth Foundation. “Fifty-three percent said inflation and gas prices make July 4th and summer vacation plans less likely,” said Benefield. “They’re tightening their belts and expect lawmakers to do the same.”

According to the voter survey:

  • Only 20 percent think it is responsible for state government spending to increase faster than the rate of inflation, and 18 percent think it is responsible for state lawmakers to pass a budget that taps into reserve funds and spends billions more than the state collects in taxes and other annual revenues.
  • 64 percent would support limiting state government spending increases to the rate of inflation plus the rate of population growth.
  • 69 percent support creating education opportunity accounts [currently under consideration by lawmakers in the form of Lifeline Scholarships]. Including 78 percent Democrats, 68 percent Independents, and 61 percent Republicans.
  • More than half (53 percent) would select a private school for their child, with only 18 percent choosing their district school if financial costs were of no concern.

These numbers show that Gov. Josh Shapiro’s expression of support for school choice last week is in line with the views of voters—across party lines—who are looking for ways to improve access to education opportunities.

“Lifeline Scholarships deliver opportunity to the students who need it most,” said Benefield. “Voters overwhelming support programs like Lifeline Scholarships, and parents are demanding educational options. Lawmakers have the ability to deliver on a popular, bipartisan campaign promise to ensure all children have access to an excellent education.”

Additional survey highlights include:

Patriotism and Democracy

  • 79 percent said they consider themselves “proud to be an American,” but only 60 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds considered themselves “proud to be an American.”
  • By comparison, 65 percent consider themselves “proud to be a Pennsylvanian,” with 35 percent responding either “no,” “unsure,” or “other.”
  • 56 percent feel the right to free speech is “more restricted than it was 10 years ago,” and 41 percent say that they or someone they know has held back from speaking freely over the last year for fear of retaliation or harsh criticism.


  • 71 percent support expanding tax credit scholarships [currently under consideration by lawmakers through Pennsylvania’s successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs] for low- to middle-income students. This includes 78 percent support among Democrats, 72 percent among independents; and 63 percent among Republicans.
  • 66 percent support creating an A through F grading system that would give every Pennsylvania K–12 school a grade based on factors including state achievement, learning gains in assessment, scores, and graduation rates.

Elected Officials

  • 60 percent approve of Shapiro’s job performance.

You can read the full survey results here.


The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.