Poll: Illinois voters split on how to solve the budget impasse

Poll: Illinois voters split on how to solve the budget impasse

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CARBONDALE, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

A new poll shows there is wide disagreement among Illinois voters on the best way to solve the state's unprecedented 21-month long budget crisis.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale poll said that when given three options, 45 percent of respondents favor cutting waste and inefficiency as the only way to get a budget passed. Eleven percent favor a tax increase, while 35 percent said solving the crisis and getting a budget passed will take both budget cuts and tax hikes.

When the latter two are added together, 46 percent favor cuts and taxes versus 45 percent who want cuts only. 

“The voters of Illinois are apparently as conflicted and divided over what to do about the budget impasse as their legislators and the governor are”, said John Jackson, one of the designers of the poll.

Jackson said the deep division provides an opportunity to create a compromise budget lawmakers can sell to voters. 

When asked where specifically budget cuts should be made, a majority of voters couldn't agree on any specific area. Cutting pension benefits for public workers was the closest, with 45 percent favoring cuts and 49 percent opposing them. 

The most popular new tax proposal was a 3 percent surcharge on people with incomes over $1 million. Seventy-eight percent of respondents supported such a measure, while 19 percent disapproved and three percent had no opinion or couldn't decide. By contrast, raising the income tax for everyone or applying income taxes to retirement income were unpopular. 

“It’s a perfect storm. There is divided government in Springfield, no clear voter support for a solution, no taste for cuts to specific areas of the budget, and tremendous amounts of campaign cash already gearing up for the 2018 election,” said Delio Calzolari, associate director of the Institute.

The poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters between March 4 and March 11. Sixty percent of the voters were polled via cell phone. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. 

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