The state is sitting on a hefty surplus and a majority of the 600 voters surveyed by Wesleyan University’s Survey Lab would like it to be used to cut taxes.
Only 16% would prefer to increase spending and 25% would prefer to pay down long-term debt, according to the poll released Monday.
When it comes to the type of tax cut voters want to see, 86% strongly or somewhat support lowering the tax rates on income for individuals who make less than $50,000 and families who make less than $100,000. Another 67% strongly or somewhat support raising taxes on individuals who earn more than $250,000 a year and couples who make more than $500,000 a year.
On the spending side, voters said while they prefer tax cuts they would favor increasing spending on K-12 education, healthcare, and transportation.
“The public simultaneously supports government spending in a variety of policy areas while also wanting tax relief,” said Logan Dancey, Associate Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and a director of the survey. “State legislators will ultimately have to make tough decisions about which tax cuts and spending items to prioritize.”
After yesterday’s new budget projections, the state has nearly $200 million more in its coffers than it previously estimated. But even before that lawmakers had been looking to get around the spending cap it put in place several years ago to ensure the state didn’t slip back into deficits.
Last week the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee looked to move roughly $400 million out from under the state spending cap.
Gov. Ned Lamont was swift to criticize them for even proposing it.
But not many Connecticut voters even understand what happened in 2017, when a bipartisan budget was agreed upon and a new spending cap and other budgetary guardrails were put into place. Some of those measures were used to pay down the state’s long-term debt, including its pension liabilities.
The survey found 51% of respondents knew “nothing at all” about the guardrails and 28% answered “only a little.” After reading arguments for and against keeping the guardrails in place, voters supported keeping the guardrails in place by a margin of 56% to 13%, although 32% of respondents said they were “not sure.”