A new poll shows that more than half of Illinoisans say state government spends too much money, and should close its budget deficit by only cutting spending – not raising taxes.
The poll released by the Illinois Policy Institute surveyed 600 likely voters from across Illinois on Feb. 28 and March 1.
Most of the respondents, 42 percent, identified themselves as Democrat; 30 percent said they were Republican and 24 percent said they were Independent. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed self-identified as either moderate or liberal.
Key findings from the poll:
- 80 percent of Illinoisans surveyed supported spending cuts as a vehicle to balance the state budget; more than half of Illinoisans said spending cuts should be the only tool used to close the budget deficit.
- 7 percent of Illinoisans surveyed said the state should raise taxes without cutting spending.
- 70 percent of respondents said property taxes are too high; only 2 percent of respondents said property taxes are too low.
- 60 percent of Illinoisans surveyed ranked state income taxes as too high.
- 81 percent of Illinoisans said the state is headed on the “wrong track.”
The survey reflects voter sentiment at a time when state lawmakers continue to struggle to pass a budget, something that has not been in place since the last one expired on June 30, 2015.
Both the House and Senate will be in session today, with the Senate expected to continue debate on a budget proposal called the "grand bargain" - which features tax increases that would be retroactive to Jan. 1.
State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) has been an outspoken critic of the tax increases outlined in the grand bargain proposal.
In a Facebook message posted Monday, McCarter said that tax increases or spending cuts alone are not going to be enough to get the state out of its financial mess.
Citing state pension systems as an example, he said the state has to change the way it does things, like the private sector did when companies transformed retirement plans from defined benefit to defined contribution plans. The state needs to follow that example by putting into place sustainable programs that can guarantee payments to retirees in the future, he said.
He also said that through cuts and reforms, everyone will need to adjust to government being smaller and people will have to accept they are not going to get as many benefits as before.
Quoting former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a fiscal conservative whose state is now thriving economically, McCarter said, "You'd be amazed at how much people can live without once it's gone."
According to a press release from the Illinois Policy Institute, the new poll results show the main components of the grand bargain are "significantly out of step" with how Illinois voters would like their elected officials to end the historic budget impasse.
“The poll results are clear: Illinoisans from both sides of the political aisle are fed up with tax increases and do-nothing legislation sold to them as ‘reform,’" stated John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute. "They know state government spends more than it should, and they feel the pain of high income and property taxes."
The poll was conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and has a 4 percent margin of error.