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Illinois voters differ on views of state budget crisis

 

Most Illinois voters say the state budget stalemate is not having an impact on their lives, according to a new poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Voters also remain divided over how to fix the state’s budget woes. There are 44 percent who favor cuts, 12 percent who favor tax increases and 33 percent who favor both.

The survey of 1000 registered voters was taken Sept. 27-Oct. 2 and has a margin of error of plus or minus three point one percentage points.

Of the total sample, 34 percent said they were personally affected by the crisis while 62 percent were unaffected. Those opinions have varied little during the past year.

Dr. Linda Baker, university professor at the Institute, said, “Illinoisans are aware that the budget crisis is no longer an abstract question, but instead something that is growing in significance and having an effect on the state’s ability to attract and retain businesses and residents.”

“One hopeful finding is the increased percentage of Illinoisans who see the solution as a mix of both budget cuts and increasing revenues. Hopefully this can help spur policymakers on both sides of the aisle to consider a compromise that includes solutions offered by both parties,” she said.

David Yepsen, director of the Institute, said “I’m surprised more people aren’t feeling affected by this deadlock in Springfield. I thought the numbers of people impacted would be increasing as it wore on but it’s also true many people aren’t impacted by changes in government services.”

Among those who saw an impact on their own lives, the largest group – at 18 percent – saw the budget stalemate as the cause of their job loss or threat of loss. Another 15 percent saw it as the cause of cuts to general social services and 14 percent perceived it as the source of cuts to K-12 education funding.

The Simon Poll has tracked opinions from 2009 to 2016, and noted a gradual decline, although slight, in the percentage of respondents who felt that a series of budget and spending cuts would suffice to address the structural fiscal problem. Interviewees are increasingly seeing the need for an increase in state revenues coupled with cuts as an essential part of any solution.

· Respondents who viewed only budget and spending cuts as the primary way to solve the crisis shrank from 57 percent in 2009 to 44 percent in 2016.

· Those who thought that a mix of cuts and increased revenues was needed rose from 27 percent in 2009 to 33 percent in 2016.

· The number who viewed an increase in revenues as the primary vehicle for solving the problem was 12 percent, with only minor fluctuations during the period covered by the study.

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