Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Poll: Illinois voters want budget that reforms pensions, consolidates government and freezes property tax

By Ann Maher | Mar 21, 2017

Illinois voters are ready to reform the way the state does business, according to a new poll released by the Illinois Policy Institute.

A survey conducted of 600 likely voters between Feb. 28 and March 1, showed that most people favor a property tax freeze, government consolidation and pension reform.

John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, said in a release that the results prove that people support an "all cuts" budget plan to shrink the state's deficit.

“In early March, the Institute released poll results showing 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," Tillman stated. "Opponents of reform responded by stating that taxes are universally hated, and that voters do not support the reforms necessary to enact an all-cuts budget. These poll results prove the detractors wrong."

The poll released on Tuesday showed:

- 67 percent of Illinoisans surveyed support a permanent property tax freeze that could only be broken by a local vote.

- 78 percent of respondents said current state workers should have the option to leave the pension system and enroll in 401(k)-style retirement savings plans. The poll also found that 60 percent support a mandatory 401(k)-style plan for all new government workers.

- 68 percent of Illinoisans surveyed also said public universities and school districts – not the state – should pay their own share of pension costs.

While a majority of likely voters did not favor giving local governments more power to negotiate union contracts or support the flow of state dollars to local governments, the poll results suggest that sentiment may be changing.

"The poll also found that that roughly 1 in 2 likely voters support reforms related to subjects Illinois lawmakers have long considered 'untouchable,'" the release states.

Results showed:

- 46 percent want to give local governments more power to better negotiate union contracts and wages for infrastructure projects – which could take the form of prevailing wage or collective bargaining reform.

- 46 percent support stopping the flow of state income tax dollars to local governments if it helps end the state’s budget crisis.

State lawmakers continue to struggle to approve a budget, having gone nearly two years since the last one expired June 30, 2015. The House is in session through Thursday this week; the Senate will return next Tuesday.

A proposed "grand bargain" that would include some reforms as well as a retroactive income tax increase has so far failed to gain enough support to pass.

The Illinois Policy Institute says that the reforms identified in the poll results are among those it has recommended in a budget proposal it introduced in January.

"The Institute’s proposal offers lawmakers a roadmap to balancing the budget without raising taxes, and implementing pension reform that complies with the Illinois Constitution," the release states.

The poll, conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, found that 64 percent of those surveyed self-identified as either moderate or liberal, and 42 percent described themselves as Democrats. The poll had a 4 percent margin of error.

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Organizations in this Story

Illinois General Assembly Illinois Policy Institute