CHICAGO – Illinois voters are increasingly frustrated with the state economy and their elected officials’ inability to fix the problems, according to a poll released Thursday by Illinois Policy Action.
“This new poll shows what many people have been feeling for months: Illinoisans are fed up with a state economy that drives jobs across state lines, relies on tax hikes to try and balance state budgets, and politicians who refuse to address the political and economic problems facing the state,” said Nathaniel Hamilton, a spokesman for the Illinois Policy Institute.
The study polled likely voters across the state, and compared their responses to those of Cook County residents alone.
According to the poll, the statewide approval rate of Gov. Rauner is 34.4 percent, compared to the approval rate of Speaker Michael Madigan at 19.9 percent. However, respondents in Cook County show lower approval ratings of Rauner at 25.4 percent, and slightly higher approval ratings of Madigan at 25.1 percent.
Tensions have been high between Rauner and the state legislature, which has been operating without an approved budget since the new fiscal year began July 1. The Democratically controlled legislature proposed a budget that was unbalanced by nearly $4 billion, which the Republican governor rejected. The sides remain at odds over economic reforms proposed by Rauner.
Respondents had a rather unambiguous opinion of state lawmakers:
- Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the Illinois General Assembly?
- Approve: 9.8 percent
- Disapprove: 69.6 percent
- Undecided: 20.6 percent
The survey further showed that Cook County residents would rather raise taxes than cut services for the needy, but would rather not raise taxes in the first place.
“A very telling number for Cook County was that although 41 percent of respondents would prefer to pay more in taxes instead of having services cut, 51 percent of Cook County residents would view unfavorably an elected official that raised taxes to balance the budget,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton points to a third option for obtaining a balanced budget that would save both social services and keep taxes from growing.
“Reforming the way that the state spends money and funds and operates its pension system make up significant portions of the budget,” said Hamilton. “The governor has proposed some reforms that would improve much of that, along with his economic proposals.”
The differences between Cook County and statewide respondents could be attributed to another statistic revealed in the survey: 57.8 percent of Cook County voters surveyed have someone in their immediate families affected by the budget stalemate, compared to only 46.4 percent statewide.
“Cook County, and Chicago, is by far the most populous area of the state which leads to an increase in city, state and county workers, and people who rely on some sort of government program for food, housing, work or recreation,” said Hamilton.
“The overall message both inside and outside of Cook County is clear that taxpayers are tired of the budget stalemate – and years of unbalanced budgets – getting in the way of Illinois increasing jobs and growing a productive state economy.”
Ogden & Fry conducted the statewide poll on Oct. 20 and 21.
The full poll results are available here: http://bit.ly/1Lq2q29
According to Hamilton, a pollster notified the Illinois Policy Institute late Thursday that the correct number for the governor’s approval rating is 34.4 percent, not 39.4 percent as listed.