A new poll shows that most registered voters in Illinois want to close the state’s $4 billion budget gap through spending cuts rather than tax increases, and more than half want to see public pensions cut to address the deficit.
The pension problem has been enduring. Illinois is barely able to pay its employees – firemen, police, park workers and so forth – their pensions. It owns a $30 billion debt. MarketWatch says it has the worst pension reform situation in the nation. Senators have been creating and eliminating plans for years. Toni Preckwinkle suggested a sales tax; Bruce Rauner wants to cut pension benefits. Politicians remain undecided.
Meanwhile, a poll produced by Americans for Prosperity of Illinois surveyed 600 registered Illinois voters. Sixty-six percent called for state-spending to be cut while only 15% – not even a third of the people surveyed – proposed raising taxes. Four percent elected for a combination of taxes and cuts, while 3 percent prefer additional borrowing.
Another key finding showed that most Illinoisans are seriously troubled about the direction that their government is taking. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Illinois voters say the state is off on the wrong track, while just 11% say things are headed in the right direction. The pessimism is bipartisan: 80% of Republicans, 77% of Independents, and 84% of Democrats say Illinois is off on the wrong track.
Nearly unanimously, Illinois voters say the current state budget shortfall is serious. A whopping 83% of voters say the budget shortfall is very serious, and 14% say it is somewhat serious. Just 1% say it is not serious.
A majority of voters say the amount of state and local taxes they pay is too high. Fifty-six percent (56%) of registered voters say the amount of state and local taxes they pay is too high, 36% say the amount is about right, and just 5% say it is too low.
Voters were asked which programs and services they would prefer to see cut to close the state budget shortfall. Fifty-three percent (53%) prefer to cut government employee pensions, 22% opt for cutting public assistance programs, 6% prefer to cut Medicaid funding, and just 3% say they prefer to cut education funding. Sixteen percent (16%) select “none of the above.”
The data tells us that Illinois voters are pessimistic about the direction of their state and view the budget shortfall of at least four billion dollars as serious. Most would prefer to cut state spending and government employee pensions rather than increase or impose taxes. The results are bipartisan: Democrat, Republican, and Independent voters unanimously nix taxes. Unfortunately, draft proposals are still floating large tax increases and only small spending cuts. This is not what the majority of the people want.