FAIRFIELD, CT — A new statewide poll by Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy found voters prefer creating new sources of tax revenue over cutting funds to public programs and services in order to balance the state budget.
The poll of 1,000 residents conducted during the first two weeks of October found 59.7 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” support new tax revenue over the 32.8 percent who “strongly” or “somewhat” support cutting funds for public programs and services.
The poll also found that nearly three-quarters of residents or 71.3 percent reported being either “very” or “somewhat” aware that Connecticut is required by law to adopt a balanced budget, and 89.8 percent reported being aware the state is facing a budget crisis.
“The state is at a critical crossroads, and it appears obvious from the results of this survey that residents are experiencing a high degree of anxiety over the state’s budget battles, taxes, and the cost of living in Connecticut,” Lesley A. DeNardis, director of the SHU Institute for Public Policy, said.
The poll found when it comes to new sources of revenue, 70.6 percent “strongly” or “somewhat support” legalizing and taxing marijuana and 55.6 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” support instituting tolls. Thirty-three percent of residents earning $150,000 or more supported increasing the sales tax. Only 23.9 percent of those earning $50,000 or less supported an increase in the sales tax.
The poll also found 74.7 percent of those surveyed believe individuals making more than $500,000 a year and couples making $1 million or more should pay higher taxes on their income. The top income tax rate currently for that group is 6.99 percent.
When it comes to where they would like to see government cut spending 32.7 percent of respondents cited pension funding. Connecticut has one of the worst-funded pension systems in the country and it’s what’s driving the battle over the current budget deficit.
The second most popular choice for cutting spending was closing a prison, at least a handful have been partially mothballed over the past five years, and the third most popular was to eliminate the property tax credit. Homeowners who make less than $100,000 per year receive a $200 property tax credit. The popular credit has been reduced or eliminated in recent iterations of the state budget.
So-called corporate welfare was also popular among the survey respondents.
More than three-quarters of residents either strongly or somewhat agree Connecticut should offer more incentives in the form of tax credits and tax rebates in order to prevent more big companies from leaving the state and to also attract more business to the state.
Asked about their biggest concern for the state, 93.7 percent said the high cost of living, which was followed by the 90.9 percent who cited the “high overall tax burden,” and 77.7 percent who said they were concerned about the number of people moving out of Connecticut.
At the same time, more than 62.1 percent of respondents reported that the quality of life in Connecticut is “excellent” or “good,” and nearly one-third believe the quality of life has been declining.
More than three out of five residents are finding it “very” or “somewhat difficult” to maintain their standard of living and nearly half of all respondents making more than $150,000 per year reported they are considering moving out of Connecticut within the next five years.
The poll of 1,000 residents has a 3.02 percent margin of error.
Michael Vigeant, CEO of Great Blue Research, said polling will continue to be conducted quarterly on behalf of SHU’s Institute for Public Policy.
The polls will solicit thoughts on the quality of life in Connecticut, visions of how the state can address current issues and challenges, ideas for how Connecticut can become more “business friendly,” concerns over retail prices, income and the cost of living and confidence in local, state and federal government.
“This is the perfect time to be checking the state pulse on issues of great concern to its residents and leaders,” Vigeant said. “Having a national, professional and objective polling institute dedicated to researching Connecticut’s challenges can provide a vital stream of information relevant to decision-making taking place in Hartford and in city halls across Connecticut.”
The last Quinnipiac University poll on these types of issues was done back in June 2016. At the time, the university found only three percent of Connecticut voters were “very satisfied” with the way things were going in the state, with 25 percent “somewhat satisfied.” Another 33 percent were “somewhat dissatisfied” and 39 percent were “very dissatisfied.”