2006 Survey on Budget Proposals
According to the most recent survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind, 61% of Garden State voters say raising the sales tax is a bad idea, including 7 of 10 Republicans, 6 of 10 independents, and half of Democrats.
Almost two-thirds (64%) of Garden State voters say they've heard some or a great deal about the recently proposed budget, and two-thirds (67%) say the state should hold the line on spending even if state programs are reduced. Only 21% say the state should raise taxes in order to continue to support state programs.
However, the poll follows up with those who said raising the sales tax is a bad idea by asking whether they prefer to raise the sales tax or make “even steeper cuts in state programs.” A majority of those (53%) still say the state should make the steeper cuts, while one in four switches sides to “raise the sales tax.” On this second round of questioning Republican voters are much more likely to stand firm with budget cuts (67%) than are Democrats, who split 40% for making more cuts and 36% for raising the sales tax.
All the recent tax proposals that tend to affect everyone also provoke wide disapproval. Not only do a majority disapprove of raising the sales tax, but 62% say it's a bad idea not to restore property tax rebates; and 56% say it's a bad idea to extend the sales tax to cover services such as limousine service, lawn care, haircuts, or health club memberships.
Those tax proposals that fall on a narrow segment of the population tend to find approval among the majority: 72% say it is OK to increase the cigarette tax; 69% say increasing tax on commercial property sales worth over a million dollars is a good idea; 69% say it's a good idea to increase the wholesale tax on alcoholic beverages; 64% approve of increasing registration fees for cars that cost over $45,000; and just over half, 54%, say it's a good idea to add a two and a half percent surcharge to the corporate business tax. “As in other years, voters are willing to tolerate nuisance taxes so long as those taxes are more likely to annoy to someone else,” said Peter Woolley, a professor of political science and director of the poll.
Republicans and Democrats disagree about spending cuts that have broad effects. A majority of all voters (56%) say it's a bad idea not to increase state aid to cities and towns. But while two-thirds of Democrats (68%) say it's a bad idea, fewer than half of Republicans (45%) agree.
Likewise, when it comes to eliminating a thousand state jobs, voters split, with 49% saying it's a good idea and 41% saying it's a bad idea. But a majority of Democrats (52%) say cutting state jobs is a bad idea while a majority of Republicans (60%) say cutting state jobs is a good idea. A majority of voters (53%) also say it's a bad idea to hold the line on state aid for public schools. But, again, voters differ by party. A majority of Democrats (64%) say it's a bad idea not to increase spending on school aid while a majority of Republicans (54%) say it's a good idea to hold back on aid for public schools.
On the other hand, agreement is nearly universal about cutting state aid for colleges and universities: 79% of voters say it's a bad idea, including large majorities among Democratic, independent, and Republican voters.
Democrats and Republicans also agree that their property taxes are going up: 43% of voters say they expect their property taxes to increase “a lot” this year and another 38% say they expect their property taxes to increase “a little.” Just 15% say they expect their property taxes to “stay about the same.”
What is most responsible for driving up state taxes over the years? “Fraud, waste and abuse” is the answer of 44% of voters. In a distant second place are health care and pension costs for public employees.
Taking everything into account, 41% of voters say the proposed budget is bad for New Jersey, compared with just 25% who said so last year about Acting Governor Codey's budget and 35% two years ago who said Governor McGreevey's last budget was bad for the state.
Meanwhile, voters who say New Jersey is on the wrong track increased to 57% from 47% since a month ago. Voters saying New Jersey is headed in the right direction dropped to 26% from 34% a month ago. The only time the percentage of voters saying the state is headed in the right direction was less was last October in the midst of a negative campaign for governor. “If the Budget Doctor insists on tough medicine, some of the patients are going to gag,” said Woolley.
The governor's ratings have declined steeply. Voters rating Governor Corzine's job performance as “poor” increased to 22% from just 8% in March. Voters saying they have a “very unfavorable” view of the governor increased to 21% from just 12% in March. And those who “disapprove” of the job Corzine is doing as governor shot up to 36% from just 16% last month.
Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll of 685 registered voters was conducted from March 27 through April 2 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
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Copyright © 2006, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 060404]