Unforgiving

Illinois Policy May 2017

Illinoisans feel the strain of the state’s two-year budget impasse, but they are emphatic that tax hikes should not be part of any budget deal. These are the findings of a new poll of likely Illinois voters, released today by the Illinois Policy Institute.

The budget impasse is a “concern” of 94 percent of Illinoisans who were surveyed. But Illinoisans’ widespread concern about the impasse does not result in support for the most talked-about “solution” in Springfield: higher taxes. Only 31 percent of survey respondents support raising the state income tax to end the budget impasse. An increase in the state sales tax is even more unpopular, with 76 percent of survey respondents opposed.

Another key takeaway from the poll: A plurality (49 percent) of respondents who are directly affected by the state budget impasse prefer a cuts-only, no-tax-hike budget.

“The General Assembly is trying to pass something before the legislative session ends on May 31, but the people of Illinois don’t want just any budget. They want a reform budget that does not force them to pay more money for the same broken government,” said Kristina Rasmussen, president of the Illinois Policy Institute. “On May 23, the Illinois Senate passed a $5.4 billion tax increase that would cost each household in the state $1,125 in higher taxes this year alone. This approach to ending the impasse is wildly unpopular; only 8 percent of Illinoisans support raising taxes without spending cuts.”

Survey respondents were also asked what they think of political candidates who support raising taxes to end the budget impasse. The poll found that likely Illinois voters will be unforgiving of candidates for governor or the General Assembly who raise the state income tax or sales tax.

“Illinoisans are aware that we pay the highest property taxes in the country, and we have a higher overall tax burden than most states,” said Rasmussen. “They don’t believe politicians who claim tax hikes are the only solution.”

The poll was conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, and surveyed 500 likely voters from across Illinois on May 23. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed self-identified as either moderate or liberal, and 43 percent described themselves as Democrats. The poll has a 4.4 percent margin of error.

Key findings from the poll:

  • 94 percent of Illinoisans surveyed said they are concerned about the state budget impasse.
  • 67 percent said they or their families have been directly affected by the impasse.
  • The cohorts who reported they are most affected by the state budget impasse are respondents ages 35-55, and African-Americans.
  • Around half (49 percent) of likely voters said spending cuts should be the ONLY tool used to close the budget deficit.
  • 64 percent oppose a state budget that includes raising the state income tax.
  • 51 percent are opposed to raising the state income tax even if it comes with a property tax freeze.
  • Raising taxes in the absence of spending cuts was notably unpopular, with support never registering above single digits. This demonstrates the public’s awareness and support for reforming state government – not just sending more money to it.
  • Strong majorities of Illinoisans polled said they would be less likely to support candidates who would raise the state income tax (61 percent) or the state sales tax (73 percent) as part of the new budget.

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