Raleigh, N.C. – Three years into a state fiscal crisis, polling data reveals that North Carolina registered voters support a policy of asking state government employees to contribute more to their health benefits, and also support a significant reform to the state’s pension system.
The polling results also reveal significant voter opposition to increasing taxes to finance public sector salaries and benefits.
“These polling results demonstrate the voters of North Carolina recognize the unsustainable nature of state government’s benefit structure,” said Civitas Institute Budget and Tax Policy Analyst Brian Balfour. “Voters clearly identify reckless spending and promises made by state politicians as a major culprit in the state’s budgetary woes, and voters don’t think they should be penalized with higher taxes to finance these promises. Instead of tax hikes, they strongly favor state employees contributing more themselves to help finance their health and retirement benefits. Also of note is voters’ significant support for a dramatic reform to funding the state employee pension plan.”
Poll results show:
Voters recognize that the state faces a significant fiscal problem; most blame careless, self-serving growth in spending for the state budget deficit
- 70 percent of registered voters acknowledge the state faced a budget crisis this year
- An overwhelming majority blame elected state officials for the state budget difficulties, as 49 percent say elected state officials made careless and self-serving decisions, 26 percent say state government spent too much money and only eight percent say the state government didn’t tax enough.
Voters strongly oppose raising taxes to support public sector salaries and benefits
- A majority of registered voters, 53 percent, say they would not be willing to have their taxes raised to maintain local and state public employee salaries and benefits.
- A decisive 71 percent say that either cutting government spending (48 percent) or requiring current public employees to contribute more toward their benefits (23 percent) is the best way to address the problem of the state not being able to afford public employee benefits. Meanwhile, only 13 percent favor raising taxes to address this issue.
By a significant margin, voters approve of state public pension plan reform along with asking state government employees to contribute more to their health benefits
- By a significant margin of 56 to 33, registered North Carolina voters favor moving all new public employees from a defined benefit retirement plan to a defined contribution plan.
- By more than a two-to-one margin (66 percent to 29 percent), North Carolina voters believe that the new rule requiring state employees to pay a share of their enrollment premium into the State Health Plan is fair.
- In order to address the nearly $33 billion in unfunded health benefits for state retirees facing the state, a notable majority believe the best approach is to either require current employees to contribute more toward their health benefits (35 percent) or cut government service programs (17 percent) compared to only 14 percent that would prefer taxes be raised to pay for these obligations.
View the full results by clicking here.
Douglas E. Schoen, LLC conducted interviews with 400 randomly selected voters from August 29 –September 5, 2011 in each of the following states: FL, IL, IN, MI, MT, NC, NY, OH, PA, WI. The margin of error for each of these surveys is +/-4.9%. Each survey was conducted by telephone using random digit dialing, which gives every phone subscriber and cell phone user a theoretically equal chance of being selected.