(Updated with video) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy often says he knows he won’t be liked for his budget proposal, but a new Quinnipiac University poll tries to calculate just how much voters don’t like him and his proposals.
The poll found voters disapprove 40 – 35 percent of the job he is doing, with 25 percent undecided. It is the first time Quinnipiac University has polled his job approval, which is much lower than the 70 percent former Gov. M. Jodi Rell had during her first few months in office.
“What explains Malloy’s low approval rating? Only 32 percent approve of his handling of the budget, while 51 percent disapprove,” Quinnipiac University Poll Director Doug Schwartz said in a press release. “Specifically, they think he is raising taxes too much. While voters think he is raising taxes too much on the middle class, they think he could raise taxes on the wealthy more.”
Voters disapproved 51-32 percent of the way Malloy is handling the budget. Sixty-six percent say it increases taxes too much, 39 percent say it cuts spending too little, 48 percent say it increases taxes on the wealthy too little, and 68 percent say it increases taxes on the middle class too much.
Roy Occhiogrosso, senior communications advisor for Malloy, said the poll results are hardly surprising.
“With all due respect, this is why the past couple of governors refused to make the tough decisions that needed to be made: because tough decisions often aren’t popular ones,“ he said in a statement. “Gov. Malloy has put forward an honest budget that asks virtually everyone in Connecticut to make sacrifices because he believes that’s the only way we’re going to fix what’s broken and put Connecticut back to work. That people are unhappy with those sacrifices is no surprise.”
The poll found voters believe Malloy is being unfair to them, but about half admit a tax increase is necessary to balance the budget and 55 percent remain optimistic about the next four years with Malloy in the governors office.
Sources have speculated Malloy may have proposed a 6.7 percent income tax rate on the state’s wealthiest residents because the legislature is likely to increase the amount to 7 percent, but Occhiogrosso said that’s not true. He said Malloy benchmarked the income tax against New York’s which is scheduled to go to 6.875 percent on July 1.
“Everyone wants taxes raised on everyone else,” Occhiogrosso said.
The Quinnipiac University poll may have given some cover to lawmakers to increase the sales tax even more than the 6.25 and 6.35 percent proposed. Forty-seven percent of voters approve of increasing the sales tax, while 52 percent disapprove and 2 percent remain undecided. The margin is the closest of all of the tax hikes.
By a narrow 50 – 46 percent margin, voters say a tax hike is necessary to balance the budget. However voters also say 54 – 18 percent that a tax hike will hurt the state economy and 69 percent say a tax hike would be a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem for their families.
It shouldn’t be surprising voters don’t approve of most of the tax increases, although they support 72-26 percent increases in the cigarette tax and 68-30 percent increases in alcohol taxes.
69 – 29 percent against hiking income taxes on anyone making more than $50,000 a year;
52 – 47 percent against increasing the state sales tax from 6 percent to 6.35 percent;
59 – 40 percent against expanding the sales tax to haircuts, car washes and other services;
70 – 29 percent against charging sales tax on clothing and footwear under $50;
74 – 20 percent against eliminating the $500 property tax credit on the state income tax;
82 – 17 percent against increasing the gas tax 3 cents per gallon.
There’s little agreement on the tax package the poll found, but voters support 50-44 percent that Malloy should lay off state workers if they’re unable to make concessions. Voters in union households disagree 58 – 37 percent.
Voters also support 68 – 27 percent a wage freeze for state workers and support 53 – 35 percent furloughs for state workers.
The poll surveyed 1,693 registered voters from March 1-7. The poll has a 2.4 percent margin of error.