Voters prefer budget cuts over tax hikes, poll finds

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A majority of Illinois’ registered voters prefer to balance the state budget through spending cuts than by borrowing or higher taxes, according to a poll commissioned by a conservative think tank.

The Illinois Policy Institute says the poll results show that candidates who preach a platform of budget cuts and spending controls will enjoy more support from voters this fall.

The poll, conducted June 15-17 by Public Opinion Strategies, surveyed 600 registered voters and has a margin of error of 4 percent. About 38 percent of respondents described themselves as Republicans, 47 percent Democrats and 13 percent independents.

The poll found more registered voters prefer spending cuts, even to “important state programs,” as a way to close the state’s $13 billion budget gap rather than a tax increase. Given a choice between the two, 49 percent of respondents said cutting spending was the way to go while 34 percent supported a tax increase. Fourteen percent said they didn’t know.

Republican gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington has said the budget deficit can be eliminated without tax increases. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn continues to push for a 33 percent income tax hike to ensure adequate funding for education.

Quinn budget spokeswoman Kelly Kraft said Quinn already has cut more spending than any other governor, and the tax increase is meant to replace lost federal money.

“Voters may recall when their elected officials were presented with the choice to cut an additional $3 billion-plus from the budget, the bill overwhelmingly failed,” Kraft said of a budget-cutting bill floated by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

John Tillman, IPI’s chief executive officer, said the pollster was unable to get into details of specific cuts.
“We let (respondents) make their own judgment in their own mind what an important program might mean to them,” Tillman said. “Not everybody sees that the same.”

IPI is embarking on a “Turnaround Tour” through Illinois to promote its vision for resolving the state’s budget crisis. The institute promotes itself as a “leading free-market think tank.”