Reject Tax Increases, Fickle on Spending Cuts
Raleigh, N.C. – As North Carolina lawmakers attempt to solve this year’s $2.2 billion budget deficit and craft the budget for 2009-2010 with an estimated $3 billion shortfall, the Civitas Institute’s monthly polling surveyed public sentiment on some of the ideas and proposals up for discussion in Raleigh.
According to the live caller poll of 600 voters in North Carolina, voters generally were opposed to some of the steps Gov. Perdue has taken in order to balance this year’s budget.
Fifty-two percent of voters opposed the Governor using $100 million from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to balance the budget, while only 29 percent approved. Likewise, 51 percent of voters opposed her taking $88 million from the Education Lottery’s Reserve Fund to make ends meet. Voters were evenly split on her decision to take $50 million from the Public School Building Capital Fund with 47 percent opposed, 46 percent supporting.
In response to her budget request to close seven state prisons in order to save $24 million, 65 percent of voters opposed that action. Only 24 percent approved.
“Many of Gov. Perdue’s actions and proposals are getting a mixed reaction with the voters of North Carolina,” said Civitas Institute Executive Director Francis De Luca. “The only clear majority stands in opposition to her proposal to close prisons. The Governor will have to sell the idea that closing prisons that are more expensive to operate is a smart move.”
Other ideas being floated by the General Assembly received mixed support:
- 54 percent of voters support using money from the Golden Leaf fund to balance the budget; only 22 percent disapproved.
- 51 percent of voters support cutting all government departments by nine percent to save $1.9 billion; 35 percent disapproved.
- 49 percent of voters support saving $10 million by merging “More and Four” and “Smart Start”; 33 percent disapproved.
Some ideas voters rejected outright:
- When asked if state government should save $480 million by cutting the pay of all state employees making more than $30,000 by five percent, 68 percent of voters said no.
- 54 percent of voters rejected a one percent sales tax increase.
“Voters are conflicted on the best way to solve North Carolina’s budget crisis. They seem adverse to tax increases, but don’t have real strong opinions on how to save money,” added De Luca. “If the plan is to make no moves, which evoke a strong public reaction, they are succeeding.”
Full text of questions:
In order to close North Carolina’s $2.2 billion budget deficit, do you support or oppose each of the following:
“Save $150 million by increasing public school class sizes by 2 students from 21 to 23?”
Not Sure- 8%
“Save $1.9 billion by cutting all government departments by 9%?”
Not Sure- 14%
“Save $10 million by combining “More at Four” and “Smart Start” into one early childhood education program?”
“Save $24 million by closing seven state prisons?”
“Use $88 million from the Education Lottery’s Reserve Fund?”
Not Sure- 8%
“Use $100 million from the Clean Water Trust Fund?”
Not Sure- 19%
“Use $700 million of tobacco settlement money in the Golden Leaf Fund?”
Not Sure- 23%
“Use $50 million from a fund for counties to build and renovate schools?”
Not Sure- 7%
“Save $480 million by cutting salaries for state employees who earn more than $30,000 by 5%?”
Not Sure- 9%
The Civitas Poll is the only monthly live-caller poll of critical issues and policies facing North Carolina.
The study of 600 registered voters was conducted Mar.16 to 19, 2009. All respondents were part of a fully representative sample of registered voters in North Carolina. For purposes of this study, voters we interviewed had to have voted in either the 2004, 2006 or 2008 general elections or were newly registered voters since 2008.
The confidence interval associated with a sample of this size is such that: 95 percent of the time, results from 600 interviews (registered voters) will be within +-4% of the “True Values.” True Values refer to the results obtained if it were possible to interview every person in North Carolina who had voted in either the 2004, 2006 or 2008 general elections or were newly registered voters since 2008.
If you would like more information regarding this topic or to schedule an interview with Francis De Luca, please contact Gabe Dellinger at 919.747.8065 or Gabe.Dellinger@nccivitas.org.