Christine Stuart file photo

The same day Gov. M. Jodi Rell issued a statement saying new or increased taxes will not be part of the budget she presents to the General Assembly on Feb. 4, the state’s public employee unions unveiled a poll which found a majority of voters surveyed would choose tax increases for corporations and the wealthy over service cuts and state employee layoffs.

The survey of 600 likely voters conducted by Myers Research and Strategic Services in Virginia found “when probing voters more deeply about service cuts and laying off public sector employees, broad majorities of voters say that cutting services like health care, education, and road maintenance during a time of recession will further damage the economy.” Click here to read the press release which includes links to the poll data.

Rell seems to feel differently.

“Families and businesses already struggling in this national recession should not be burdened further by having more of their money taken by the government,” she said in a statement released Thursday.

When asked which approach would be their top choice for balancing the budget, 54 percent of the voters surveyed said increase taxes on the wealthiest and big corporations, 19 percent said make large cuts to all public services, 15 percent said lay off public employees, and 11 percent didn’t know or refused to answer the question.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Southport, said he tends to believe this poll was of the type intended to illicit specific answers. He said it’s already been proven that even a millionaires tax would raise less than $200 million.

The budget deficit for the next three years is estimated at almost $7 billion.

McKinney said he prefers a more balanced approach. He said he’s not talking about cutting services, but looking at how government delivers them.

When asked why so few voters were polled, Matt O’Connor, spokesman for CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 spokesman, said they wanted to get the poll done before Rell’s budget address next Wednesday.

Rell is skipping Friday’s monthly Bond Commission meeting to do some last-minute work on her budget proposal. Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele will be filling in for her, but there will be no press conference afterward.