screengrab sacred heart-Hartford Courant poll data
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FAIRFIELD, CT — More than half of Connecticut residents believe it is “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to maintain a standard of living, according to a new poll by Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy.

The 58.7% of residents who answered that it is “very or somewhat” difficult to maintain their standard of living said the reasons include increases in state taxes, rising utility and fuel costs such as electricity, gas and oil, and overall increases in the cost of general goods.

But more than 60% believe Connecticut offers an excellent or good quality of life.

The 33-question telephone and online survey of 1,000 Connecticut residents was conducted between May 10 and May 23 and has a 3% margin of error.

The survey, which was done in collaboration with the Hartford Courant, found that residents are concerned that living in the state is getting more expensive and are worried about increasing costs and their ability to sustain their quality of life. Residents earning less than $50,000 annually are particularly nervous about their future in Connecticut, but these worries cut across all earnings levels.

Poll results show that 50.8% of those earning $50,000 or less report their quality of life is either “fair” (38.1%) or “poor” (12.7%) compared to only 23.1% of those earning $150,000 or more.

At the same time, 33.7% of those earning $150,000 or more report their quality of life in Connecticut is declining, and 38.8% of respondents ages 45-64 also reported that their quality of life in Connecticut was declining.

“Taxes, quality-of life-issues and the high cost of living in Connecticut continue to dominate poll results,” said Lesley DeNardis, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy.

“Residents are looking for tax relief and are turning to state legislators to find solutions that won’t further hurt their pocketbooks,” DeNardis added. “The state budget passed by the Connecticut General Assembly will likely exacerbate these concerns by raising sales and excise taxes as well as lifting the sales tax exemption on previously excluded goods and services.”

Connecticut residents also weighed in on a host of legislative measures including the legalization of recreational marijuana and the possible return of highway tolls in the poll.

Fifty-nine percent believe the potential tax revenue from sales of cannabis products can potentially help bolster state finances.

On a related note, more than two-thirds (69.1%) of Connecticut residents surveyed “strongly” (50.3%) or “somewhat” (18.8% ) support the state legislature’s proposal of expunging the records of individuals with convictions for low-level marijuana-related offenses.

In addition, 57.3% of survey respondents favor having the majority of revenue from recreational marijuana sales be directed to urban areas and cities that have been disproportionately affected by the costs of drug-enforcement measures.

Connecticut residents continue to oppose electronic tolls on the state’s highways (58.8%). In addition, 51.3% of those who support tolls largely do so with the provision that money collected go into a transportation “lockbox” account to be used only for road and bridge improvements and infrastructure repairs, per a state referendum passed last year.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said last week that it’s “50-50” whether tolls get raised in a special session. The legislature left it up to Gov. Ned Lamont to call them back into session to deal with tolls.