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Overwhelming majorities oppose extending tax hike, taxing retirement income, cutting K-12 and disabled

Monday, Mar 24, 2014

* I told subscribers a bit about this poll earlier today

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute survey showing that 60 percent of those polled favor rolling back the tax comes as Gov. Pat Quinn plans to deliver his 2015 budget address Wednesday. Nearly 27 percent favored making the tax hike permanent. […]

An overwhelming majority of 79 percent oppose raising the state sales tax.

The next most popular revenue alternative to the income tax was extending the state sales tax to include goods and services not taxed. Nearly 44 percent favored that option, while 53 percent were opposed, the poll found.

And taxing retirement income, as one government watchdog group – the Civic Federation – proposed recently, was opposed by 72 percent of those surveyed.

However, the numbers shifted when pollsters questioned respondents about applying a retirement tax to those earning $50,000 or more during their golden years. Nearly 43 percent approved of that concept, while 50 percent were opposed, the poll found.

The Civic Federation honchos aren’t the only ones talking about imposing taxes on retirement income. Bruce Rauner says he’s open to it. Not a good position to have when 72 percent oppose the idea.

The poll results are here.

* The poll also asked voters what should be cut. Here are the answers for those favoring and opposing, respectively, cuts in various areas

K-12 - 17.7%-78.8%
University - 36.7%-56.6%
Public Safety - 24.1%-71.0%
Natural Resources - 31.4%-61.1%
Poor People - 26.2%-64.8%
Disabled - 14.8%-82.1%
Pensions - 41.5%-51.1%

Pensions highlighted above for obvious reasons. From the Institute

Republicans and conservatives were more likely to favor cuts to university budgets and state pensions than Democrats and Independents were. Independents were more likely to support and less likely to oppose cuts to Public Safety than either Democrats or Republicans.

* When asked how they would handle the state’s budget problems a majority, 52.3 percent, said “cut waste.” I really wish they’d drop that choice. From the Institute

Conservatives and Republicans were significantly more likely to choose the “cut waste” option (61.2 percent for the conservatives and 62.6 percent for the Republicans) than were liberals and Democrats (38.5 percent for the liberals and 42.9 percent for Democrats), with the moderates and Independents falling between the two partisan groups (52.1 percent for moderates and 57.1 percent for Independents).

Likewise, liberals and Democrats were far more likely to choose the “increase revenue” and the “combination of both” approaches than were conservatives and Republicans: 16.9 percent of the liberals and 13.6 percent of the Democrats chose the increase revenue option compared to 8.0 percent of the conservatives and 6.5 percent of the Republicans who chose that option. The moderates and Independents were much closer to the conservative and Republican position on increasing revenue.

On the “combination of both” option, 35.5 percent of the liberals chose that option compared to 21.1 percent of the conservatives. Also, 33.5 percent of the Democrats chose the combination of approaches compared to 24.7 percent of the Republicans and 25.4 percent of the Independents who chose that option.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Percival - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:31 pm:

    I want my cake. I want to eat it, too. I don’t want to pay for it. I also want the slice with the frosting flower on it.

  2. - RNUG - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:31 pm:

    This was the best line in the story:

    “Overall, these results point to a basic incongruity in public opinion,”

    Too bad they didn’t have a question about how many people believed that (a) the revenue fairy or (b) magic beans would solve the State’s revenue cliff.

    On a more serious note, I can see more gambling coming, the politicans jumping on the bandwagon to extend the sales tax to services and the income tax on $50K+ pensions.

  3. - DuPage - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    The state has cut their budget by a lot. The state could cut down on kicking back some of the various state taxes to municipalities. That was done in California. It could be done without violating the Illinois constitution. That would also increase accountability at the local level. A lot of frivolous unnecessary spending goes on at the local and county level.

  4. - Norseman - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    Well said Percival.

  5. - Chris - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    ““cut waste.” I really wish they’d drop that choice. ”

    Should be “cut things I’m opposed too”–and require an example–bc that’s what it means to people.

  6. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    Is this a surprise at all? People want the world without any of the cost. It’s completely unrealistic, but the attitude is driven by cynical politicians who want to claim everything can be done by cutting “waste.”

    To anyone espousing such opinions, I’d advise they take a long, hard look at a budget simulator (the California Next 10 simulator is one of the best around) just to see a more realistic version of revenue and spending.

  7. - Generation X - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:52 pm:

    Legalizing Marijuana should be the first step before any of these other considerations.

  8. - Wallinger Dickus - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die.

  9. - circularfiringsquad - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Mr/Ms DuPage
    Cut the local so you favor property tax hikes….great

  10. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    Slightly modified Percival:

    I want my cake. I want to eat it, too. I don’t want to pay for it. I also want the slice with the frosting flower on it. I also expect eating cake will improve my metabolism, prevent all manners of disease, and increase my income.

  11. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    So, let the tax increase expire, don’t raise any other taxes, and don’t cut anything. That makes sense.

  12. - Nearly Normal - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    Pie in the sky for sure. They want it all but will not pay for it. The reality is that there is not a lot of waste to cut so go ahead and cut the other guys’ pet projects.

  13. - AnonymousOne - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    This is why we are where we are. However, if taxing pension income over 50K is on the table, I say, why not ALL retirement income over 50K? Why stop at pensions? Why not social security? The implication is that seniors are sitting on bundles, so it needs to come from them. Get ALL of them, not just some. Don’t want any discriminatory selection of fixed income people, so we?

  14. - RonOglesby - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:15 pm:


    “I want my cake. I want to eat it, too. I don’t want to pay for it. I also want the slice with the frosting flower on it.”

    I would add a little to that:

    “I want my cake. I want to eat it, too. I WANT SOMEONE ELSE to pay for it. I also want the slice with the frosting flower on it.”

  15. - Pensioner - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:17 pm:

    ===Cut the local so you favor property tax hikes….great===

    You get what you pay for, whatever your locale. Property taxes always were a kind of “sin” tax, but heavily subsidized on tax returns. Your choice to pay to stay; It’s time taxpayers in general stop subsidizing property tax.

  16. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:17 pm:

    The polling info pretty clearly tells why, until recently, both parties shorted the pensions all these years.

    Given the schizophrenia of the voters, robbing from the pensions to avoid cuts and tax hikes is the logical budgeting strategy. When it finally blew up in all of our faces, saving pensioners had the least support among voters. Ergo, draconian and probably illegal pension “reform.”

    If you want to understand Illinois budgetary history over the past 30 years, this explains everything rather neatly, doesn’t it?

  17. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    I’d like to see, JUST ONCE, a poll asking the following:

    1) In order to increase funding to K-12 education, I’d be willing for my income taxes to be increased to:

    d) I don’t want my taxes raised to support K-12 education funding.

    2) In order to get crumbling road and school infrastructure repaired, I’d support:

    a)Raising my income taxes to 6%
    b)Raising my income taxes to 8%
    c)Repeal the “prevailing wage law” so that state and school construction labor may be bid at market rates rather than inflated union rates,saving as much as 40% of construction cost.

    3) In order to address the pension liability issues in Illinois, we should:

    a)Increase income taxes to 6% to continue funding the existing system.
    b) Create a 401K program for all new public employees in Illinois with matching contributions from the state made only when the budget is available for this expense.
    c)Cut all retiree benefits to the minimum allowed by the Illinois constitution.
    d) Amend the Illinois constitution to remove the “diminish or impair” pension provision.

    Those kind of questions would actually tell you something about the priorities of the people of Illinois.

  18. - countyline - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    You have to be too close to the process, or just protecting your own backside, to not see the billions in waste at all levels of government, from federal down to the local level.

  19. - UIC guy - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    National polling is pretty much the same. No one wants higher taxes, no one wants a budget deficit, but there’s majority support for cutting spending only on one item, which is overseas aid. And that’s because people think that it’s 10% of the budget and should be half that. (In fact it’s under 1%.) So no big surprises. Of course the Feds can run budget deficits every year with no great harm, whereas Illinois….

  20. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    ===to not see the billions in waste ===

    Gimme $2 billion in state government waste.

  21. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    Legalizing marijuana and expanding gambling, without excessive dilution of traffic among proximate establishments, seem to be logical first steps.
    Increasing sales taxes and imposing a new service tax appear to be job killers.
    A means tested retirement income tax appears feasible, but how much revenue would it generate at a $50,000 retirement income (pensions, IRAs, SSI) threshold? I don’t know many people who draw in that sort of retirement income. And substantially lowering the threshold could cause move outs. And wouldn’t this require adjustments for locality?
    So long as property taxes move inexorably upward primarily due to education costs, I doubt folks will entertain any substantial tax increases. If it’s possible, which I doubt, public education needs to come off the property tax, with a cost shift possibly onto a progressive income tax, with parents that can picking up the majority of the cost. But the constitution and loss of local control are huge barriers. And the public education industry isn’t about to let captive homeowners off the hook. They can be squeezed relentlessly because they don’t want to lose their homes.
    I think most folks are willing to listen to a comprehensive state, local and property tax overhaul plan. But piecemeal isn’t going to do it.

  22. - ISP Retired - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:52 pm:

    I don’t think they can say we are going to only tax state pensions I think it would have to be all retirement income,pensions,SS,401ks, private pensions,etc.

  23. - MrJM - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:52 pm:

    ===to not see the billions in waste ===

    Gimme $2 billion in state government waste.

    cricket. cricket. tumbleweed. cricket.

    – MrJM

  24. - Anon - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    Could the income tax be extended to pensions and Social Security in households with incomes above 50K without amending the constitution? I understand the legislature could repeal the exemption, but having a tiered personal exemption might be considered a covert form of progressive taxation.

  25. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:08 pm:

    These results have not changed noticeably in years.

    The crosstabs on whether or not folks supported the pension reform bill actually look pretty good for the Governor.

    Independents seem to favor by a wide margin.

    Surprised the “where to cut” list didn’t include Transportation.

    Usually, support for cutting those dollars ranks pretty high.

    My theory was always that cuts to prisons, roads and universities was higher than average because people actually see those physical edifices, and they can always think of at least one they could live without.

  26. - Commander Norton - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:10 pm:

    I’d like to see a poll on the income tax that includes some intermediate options, such as extending the current rate for another four or five years (rather than making it permanent) or bringing it down to 4.5% or some other number in between 3.75 and 5. Especially if you first informed people of some of the spending cuts that would have to take place if it’s rolled back on Jan. 1, I’m thinking you might see at least a bit more support.

  27. - Anon - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    I would suggest this question for the poll: If you oppose spending cuts, and if you oppose tax increases, then how do you propose to pay the state´s bills and maintain current spending levels?

  28. - fed up - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    Well, we cant let the tax expire but its not popular. Drop the tax to 4.5%, expand the sales tax, legalize weed with taxes, a few more casinos, Frack all of Il south of I-80 and west of 355, and start renting out the Gov mansion for events, weddings, funerals murder mystery plays, auction off rides on the state plane, Madigan could teach chess for a few bucks, we could put Quinn in a dunk tank at fairs and street fests, lots of ways to make a few bucks, Just get it over and sell rauner the Gov job for 50-75 million, see if Oberwise is willing to pay for some type of honorary position.

  29. - AnonymousOne - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    Interesting that one commenter says that they didn’t know how taxing retirement income over 50K would produce much revenue……they don’t know many pulling in that kind of retirement income. Another commenter talks about taxing retirement incomes over 50K without a constitutional amendment……..Why is the focus on senior citizens with large medical costs, numerous prescriptions to fill each month, looming nursing home bills? If there aren’t that many over 50K retirement incomes out there, are these the people we want to skim off of? If you say they should have some in the bank (to take?) after a lifetime of saving, then young workers don’t have a lot of incentive to save for their illnesses, old age if they see seniors are to be taken from. Too many people have read the hysterical inflated and incorrect information in the likes of the Tribune and believe that the average state pensioner lives like Bruce Rauner with 9 homes I guess (but wouldn’t dare think of making someone like him pay more). Why seniors? Because they won’t fight back?

  30. - Living in Machiaville - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    Waste is a relative term for sure and not easy to discern to those of us outside the actual financial workings of state government. But in a attempt to poke the issue in the eye, I offer the following:

    Looking at the fy14 state budget on IL OMB’s site I see $16,587,531,000 in general funds to run all the agencies under the Gov. Cut 6.25% across the board or make each agency come to ILGA approp commitees and defend every dollar. That saves just over $1 billion.

    Leave alone education funding to the school districts, colleges and universites. But make similar 6.25% cuts to State Board of Higher Ed and State Board of Ed. You’ll get another $500 million (mostly from SBE).

    Cut the Architect of the Capitol’s “other state funds” by 6.25% and there is another $19.5 million.

    There is actually more than $50.5 billion in “other state funds” in total. Not sure what these are but cutting these by 6.25% gets you $3.6 billion.

    I’m not a budgeteer, just a guy with a computer, web access and a calculator (that I may have not worked correctly). But if for some miracle I did, I’m thinking that without laying-off state employees there might be some cutting back to get close to the $2 billion. Okay kids, have at it.

  31. - RNUG - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 3:18 pm:

    - AnonymousOne - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    - ISP Retired - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:52 pm:

    If you go to the Paul Simon survey that rich provided a link to, the question on taxing retirement income specifically mentioned SS. The follow-up on $50K didn’t but it was implied.

  32. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 3:33 pm:

    ==I’m thinking that without laying-off state employees there might be some cutting back to get close to the $2 billion.==

    You’re thinking wrong.

    ==But make similar 6.25% cuts to State Board of Higher Ed and State Board of Ed. You’ll get another $500 million (mostly from SBE).==

    You aren’t getting that much in cuts simply by cutting the bureaucracy. Not that much there.

    ==Cut the Architect of the Capitol’s “other state funds” by 6.25% and there is another $19.5 million.==

    Doesn’t help balance the budget because those “other funds” aren’t available for use other places.

    ==There is actually more than $50.5 billion in “other state funds” in total. Not sure what these are but cutting these by 6.25% gets you $3.6 billion.==

    Again, doesn’t help balance the budget because those funds are restricted.

  33. - RNUG - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 3:36 pm:

    - Living in Machiaville - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    I’m sure people like Steve Schnorf & AA can explain it better than I can and give you more detialed numbers but here goes …

    At best, your example will only achieve about $1.5B in savings. As I understand it, even though it is shown in the “state” budget of approx $70B, about $35B (I’m playing a bit loose and rounding some in this example) is federal pass-thru money you can’t cut / divert to state spending. And once add in the required bond payments, pension funding and federal match requirements, you’re somewhere in the neighborhood of $16B operating funds you cite. that $16B is about all you can try to chop.

    Even if you could get away with pulling $1B - 2B out of the $16B, the hole from the expiring income tax is more like $4B when figured on a whole year basis (it will only be a 1/2 year effect in the FY15 budget). That is why the most recent budget hearings had the agencies describing a 20% cut in their budgets, which is much more drastic than your 6.25% example. And don’t forget that Quinn has already had the agencies chop their budgets over 10% in each of the last 2 years; have to suspect a good part of the fat was squeezed out by those previous cuts.

  34. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 4:08 pm:

    ==- Arizona Bob - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 1:26 pm:==

    Here’s some polling AB, Pat Quinn ran on an income tax increase in 2010 and won the election. Rich Whitney ran and supported increasing taxes. Scott Lee Cohen supported a tax increase in a Lt. Gov questionnaire for the Tribune and ran for governor after his legal issues came to light. Add up their vote counts and it is over 50 percent.

    This kind of poll, an election, “actually tell[s] you something about the priorities of the people of Illinois.”

  35. - Living in Machiaville - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 4:35 pm:

    DEmoralized and RNUG, thanks for pointing out more specifics. I stayed away from federal funds in my calcs. From the OMB spreadsheet it looked far more discretionary.

  36. - vttk17a1 - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 5:11 pm:

    Perhaps someone will be brave enough to consider a financial transactions surcharge on business conducted in places like the CME?

  37. - steve schnorf - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 5:20 pm:

    Are Illinoisans all that tolerant of cognitive dissonance, or is the Institute just unlucky in their random selection process?

  38. - concern1 - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 5:28 pm:

    Im planting turnips in my garden so do you want to tax them too….BS

  39. - steve schnorf - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 6:02 pm:

    concern, no, but if you’re like the people polled you are expecting them to come in as truffles

  40. - Budget Watcher - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 6:13 pm:

    To Living in Machiavile:

    A major flaw in your logic is to assume that all agencies could cut uniformly across the board by a fixed percent. Some agencies simply cannot cut state support for programs due to maintenance of effort or match requirements which are conditions for receiving federal revenues. So with some programs off limits that means others state-only programs or operations would have to be cut by more than 6.25%…in some instances, way more. The federal government takes a very dim view of states withdrawing their share of support for programs.

  41. - Odysseus - Monday, Mar 24, 14 @ 7:02 pm:

    “Should be “cut things I’m opposed too”–and require an example–bc that’s what it means to people.”

    Giving an example of what spending most people are opposed to would only expose the next level of ignorance.

    Most of the programs named would be rounding error in the overall budget, and even eliminating them would do nothing substantial to balance the budget.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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