Kurt Bills, the representative for District 37B, recently sent a Letter to the Editor into Apple Valley Patch which invites constituents to take his survey on legislative priorities on a variety of topics including the Vikings stadium and K-12 funding. Unfortunately for Representative Bills, the survey questions are leading and, in many cases, show clear favoritism towards the Republican agenda.
From the survey:
2. What is the best way to begin to repay delayed K-12 education funding?
* Reduce spending in order to grow the surplus
* Increase taxes
* Racino revenue
Clearly there are no other alternatives to repaying the delayed K-12 education funding than racinos, increased taxes, and growing the surplus! If Representative Bills really wanted to hear from the general public he would have offered some of his own priorities and allowed for an open ended answer as well. Unfortunately without that open ended option, the three provided appear to point to only one option: reduce spending because few would ever want K-12 education to be tied to racino revenues (immoral, etc) and based on the difficulties in passage of recent levies, increasing taxes is also not going to be an option. This leaves only “reduce spending” as a viable option and the one the Republicans and Bills want to point to as THE solution.
8. How should Minnesota handle health care?
* Go along with the federal program, also known as Obamacare
* Reject the Obamacare plan and pass private-sector reforms that offer Minnesotans more personal freedom and flexibility in healthcare coverage
Bills again posts a very leading question here due to poor word choice and specifically pointing out what he views as the positives in rejecting the plan which is currently in use. First, while you may reject the current federal option, the survey choices probably should have been reworded such as:
* Continue with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as “Obamacare”) which provides foo, foo, and foo.
* Rework the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to include private-sector reforms which some people will offer more flexibility in healthcare coverage.
However, as the survey is currently worded the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act seems to be the worst possible option which limits your personal freedoms and is rigid in its requirements. No matter how a politician feels about a particular federal program they really should understand that they represent more than those with the same party affiliation. By creating survey questions which will likely be used as evidence of the public’s choice of legislative priority they are doing their constituency a great disservice and they make themselves look amateurish and ridiculous.
While Kurt Bills is not the first local politician who failed to understand how to properly word survey questions however he really should be the last. Please, for the love of god, find someone at the Capitol who can come up with questions and survey options which are not leading, not ridiculous, and don’t purposefully direct the constituency into allowing for what could be poor decisions simply because someone doesn’t know how to properly author a survey.
What do you think about Kurt Bills’ survey? Do you find the questions and choices leading? Do you think any meaningful data will be acquired through the collection of responses? Whatever you have to say about Kurt Bill’s survey go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.