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A closer look at that Simon poll

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* Let’s get back to that Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll, shall we? Respondents were asked

Do you favor or oppose a proposal to make permanent the temporary state income tax increase passed in 2011?

As we’ve already discussed, 60 percent opposed making the tax hike permanent, while a mere 26.5 percent favored making it permanent.

* So, a follow-up question was asked of respondents who said they were opposed to making the tax increase permanent

The Governor’s budget office estimates that if the temporary tax increase expires, it will add $2 billion dollars a year to the state’s budget deficit. If you were convinced this was the case, would you favor or oppose making permanent the temporary income tax increase?

Even with that information about a $2 billion hit to the budget, 74 percent still opposed making the tax hike permanent and just 17 percent changed their minds. 49 percent of Democrats still opposed making the tax hike permanent, versus just 38 percent who changed their minds and backed it. 47 percent of self-identified liberals remained opposed to making the tax hike permanent, compared to 41 percent who changed their minds.

* Moving along to pensions, respondents were asked

Last year the legislature passed and the governor signed a pension reform bill. It is designed to save Illinois’ under-funded public employee pension system $100 billion dollars over 30 years, and would eventually fully fund the system. It would decrease the amount workers’ pay into the program, but would also cut cost-of-living increases for state retirees. Generally speaking do you approve or disapprove of the new law?

47 percent approved of the law, while 39 percent disapproved of it. 48 percent of Democrats and Republicans approved of the new law, while 46 percent of independents approved.

Conservatives and Republicans were more likely to strongly disapprove of the new pension law (24 and 23, respectively) than liberals and Democrats (17 and 18). That’s quite an interesting result, considering the firestorm of controversy the bill ignited on the labor left end of the spectrum during the primary season.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


36 Comments
  1. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:32 am:

    A gigantic problem with the increase is its originally being billed as “temporary” which was a lie at the time, and is still a lie now. The public gets tired of the lies, which is why faith in government is at an all-time low.


  2. - Makandadawg - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:35 am:

    The problem with these questions is that it is just numbers to the voters. They don’t have the actual state budget in front of them to know what the cuts really mean.


  3. - Bill White - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:35 am:

    === The public gets tired of the lies, which is why faith in government is at an all-time low. ===

    On the other hand, its hard not to lie when citizens expect a high level of services, without paying for those services.

    Which is why the upcoming budget process will be so much fun to watch, from the sidelines


  4. - UIC Guy - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:37 am:

    About pensions, I think that what this proves is that how you phrase the question makes all the difference. Given a question using terms like ‘keeping its promises’ or ‘honoring its contract’ you’d see quite different results (and the Dem/Rep split would go the other way around, I bet).

    In short: it seems pretty meaningless, except that it may show that the crucial issue is who controls how the issue is framed.


  5. - Responsa - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:39 am:

    ==On the other hand, its hard not to lie when citizens expect a high level of services, without paying for those services.==

    Oh, Bill White. That’s so sad to see in print.


  6. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:39 am:

    People are not going to support a tax hike when the legislature has mismanaged and wasted so much money over the years and there are no signs the legislature is on track to be more fiscally conservative.

    No one believes the lies that there is nothing more to cut.


  7. - facts are stubborn things - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    I suspect if the question on pensions would have been asked the following way the results may have been different. “Do you beleive that pension benifits that have been promised and are protected by the IL Constiution should be honered for those who have already retired?” I bet the percentage on that would be a huge majority indicating “yes”.


  8. - Bill White - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    What Heather Steans said . . .

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-21/opinion/ct-perspec-tax-0321-20140321_1_state-pensions-calvin-income

    ===

    That said, if the “temporary increase” is not extended

    AND

    ~13,000 teachers are facing layoffs on January 1st

    THEN

    A constitutional amendment to surcharge millionaires could be very appealing to voters.


  9. - AnonymousOne - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:42 am:

    With regard to phrasing the question perhaps throwing in the word Constitution would be of help also. When the issue of a graduated tax comes up, those opposed to it are insistent that the Constitution strictly prohibits this and the Constitution cannot be changed. The words shall not be diminished or impaired in the Constitution don’t seem to have the same weight to those same people. If the Constitution is so carved in stone for taxes……………


  10. - facts are stubborn things - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:44 am:

    We get the government that we as a state deserve. When politicians tell the truth we punish them. When they lie to us and tell us we can reduce taxes and keep services we keep them.


  11. - facts are stubborn things - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:46 am:

    Yes, the state is in crisis so why pay any attention to the constitution on a graduated income tax. Nothing is absolute and the GA and PQ should pass something and let the courts sort it out. Oh what a wicked webb we weave………..


  12. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:46 am:

    Well, when push comes to shove with funding for liberal democratic programs, middle class workers taking a hit is ok because it’s the lesser of two evils, and I see at least some of the republican opposition to the law having to do with their belief in both the state and federal constitutions and the rule of law in this country, which is meant to protect the minority, in this case middle class state employees and retirees, from the tyranny of the majority. Most of the support for the new law is basically rooted in hatred of anything government in general and union in particular.


  13. - Roadiepig - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    Conservatives and Republicans were more likely to strongly disapprove of the new pension law (24 and 23, respectively) than liberals and Democrats (17 and 18). That’s quite an interesting result, considering the firestorm of controversy the bill ignited on the labor left end of the spectrum during the primary season

    Maybe I am reading this wrong, but couldn’t the overwhelming majority of the Republican/Conservatives who “strongly oppose” SB1 do so because it doesn’t go far enough in cutting benefits? That’s their head cheerleader’s (the Baron, of course)complaint isn’t it?


  14. - Pensioner - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    Sorry, not trying to hijack the thread, just appreciate any knowledge anyone might like to share.


  15. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    –A gigantic problem with the increase is its originally being billed as “temporary” which was a lie at the time, and is still a lie now.–

    How’s that? It will take a vote by the General Assembly and the signature of the governor to extend it.

    That’s not a slam dunk, by any means.


  16. - Walker - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    ===We get the government that we as a state deserve.===

    It’s been true in every state, probably since we formed them, that the much of the public believes politicians lied, votes for those who tell them other comforting lies, assumes there’s big waste to cut in government, demands their needs be met, and doesn’t want to pay taxes.

    It’s called democracy.

    These are not the kinds of issues that public opinion polls should drive. That’s why we elect representative government — to sort out the real problems, with real solutions, and real arithmetic.


  17. - cicero - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    == The public is tired of the lies. ==

    If and when the temp tax hike expires as scheduled on Jan. 1, will those who insist it won’t happen admit their error?


  18. - CapnCrunch - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    “Most of the support for the new law is basically rooted in hatred of anything government in general and union in particular.”

    The people who voted to pass this law hate government and unions?


  19. - RNUG - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    – “These are not the kinds of issues that public opinion polls should drive. That’s why we elect representative government — to sort out the real problems, with real solutions, and real arithmetic.” —

    Implementing real solutions against your constituents wishes requires real courage, something a lot of IL politicians are sorely lacking …


  20. - Bill White - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:18 am:

    - That’s why we elect representative government — to sort out the “real” problems, with “real” solutions, and “real” arithmetic.” —

    Implementing “real” solutions against your constituents wishes requires “real” courage, something a lot of IL politicians are sorely lacking …

    ===

    And thus, genuinely honest politicians are frequently “real” gone “real” fast


  21. - Rusty618 - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    Regarding the temporary tax hike, because the state cannot control spending, cuts will have to made in many departments if it is not continued. Yesterday State Police Director Grau said that many state police employees would have to be laid off, and results from the crime labs would be greatly delayed. It sounds like the school districts would have to cut programs and lay off teachers too.
    Regarding pensions, I agree with others here that if the question where phrased differently, people would not answer it the same way.


  22. - Bill White - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    While I would greatly prefer Elizabeth Warren to Hillary Clinton as President in 2016, I do accept the reality that Ms. Warren is probably too genuinely honest to actually win a presidential campaign.

    For all the reasons discussed in this thread.

    Thus, “I am ready for Hillary!”


  23. - illinifan - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    RNUG and Facts are Stubborn things are spot on…courage is key to make decisions that are not popular in the polls…when that courage happens the voter then punishes the people who had the guts to make the decision (Ogilvie is an example)….

    I am feeling like the voting public is like polling a teenager about drinking, they should be allowed to do what they want and the parents should trust that they would make the right decision…..You can’t let polls decide what you will do as a leader, then you are not leading you are just following the whim of the day. If we as a country listened to polls, civil rights would not have happened, possibly the right to vote for women, and many other laws…..

    It is time to listen to the view points, but make a decision about what the state needs fiscally. We have known for years that the fiscal problems exist and we also know the public is not willing to live with the consequences of what the cuts will bring….


  24. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    Words like ‘budget’, ‘tax increase’, ‘waste’ and ‘deficit’ are generic terms that are used so often they are just talk that most people have no real sense of scale and impact.

    Change that to:
    > Your local school will lose 20% of funding, close two elementary facilities and have 35 kids per classroom.
    > Your local mental health offices and senior center will close.
    > 25% of vehicles with local mass transit will taken off the road.
    > Road repair will only be on major roads, not side streets.
    > Food stamps will be cut by 30%.
    > Health department will cut 18% of services.

    When it effects you personally and have specific tangible outcomes then people pay close attention.


  25. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    ===The people who voted to pass this law hate government and unions?===

    The politicians who voted to pass the pension theft law, were looking for the least damaging way to get re-elected. Other than that, CapnCrunch, you can’t be a dumb as that response would otherwise indicate.


  26. - RonOglesby - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    @Bill White
    “On the other hand, its hard not to lie when citizens expect a high level of services, without paying for those services.”

    On the other hand, its easy to lie when you can kick the can down the road, make no hard choice, and still get elected and keep your core supporters happy. Who cares if the state goes broke!


  27. - RNUG - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    - facts are stubborn things - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    A better and more accurrate way to phrase the question would be:

    “Do you believe that pension benefits that have ALREADY been EARNED and are protected by the IL Constiution should be honered for those who have already retired?”


  28. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    Roadie Pig:

    I think the answer is more complicated, but you are on to something.

    I think Rich’s point is that opposition to the pension bill among liberals and Democrats was not nearly as strong as one might have expected.


  29. - Louis Howe - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    The long-term economic trend lines for working Americans flattened out over 30 thirty years ago and won’t be changing anytime soon. The public is tired of “feeding the beast” only to find out the beast has an unlimited appetite and won’t get up off the couch and go to work on problems people really care about.
    Both parties have offered false choices. Republicans stick with 19th century economic policies promoting “rugged individualism,” tax cuts for the “Job Creators,” and reduced government oversight. Democrats, instead of promoting pragmatic solutions, try and meet the Republicans with half-way measures, like Obamacare, and end up confirming the Republicans’ charge that government is the problem not the solution.
    I am not surprised voters are against any tax increases.


  30. - A guy... - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    I would suppose anyone can analyze a poll any way they would like and infer whatever reasoning that helps support their own personal point of view.

    At the risk of offending my friends Slinger and Willie and assorted others, here’s what I see when combined with walking a lot of precincts and talking to a lot of people.

    People do not believe the government is being efficient in any area it has any control over.

    People do believe that when things were most difficult for them with falling home values combined with rising real estate taxes, public employees were asking for more at the most inopportune time possible. Many labeled them as greedy and selfish. The pension spiking that was regularly in the news (an exception and not the rule of course) just exacerbated the problem.

    Karen Lewis has caused many teachers a lot more anguish than what they should be dealing with. She comes off as a grabby, uncouth slob to people in Suburban Chicago. I can’t remember a time where so many people could actually identify who the CTU union leader was going back to the late, great Jackie Vaughan. Jackie was a fighter, personally and professionally. Karen doesn’t enjoy that status. She’s viewed extremely negatively.

    In short, people think they pay more than enough in taxes at every level and they’re sick and tired of it. Every survey or interview will tell you that.

    Final thing is that people don’t hate public service employees. Many love them. Despite that, there’s a feeling that when everyone else was hemorrhaging, they had good pay, too generous of benefits, and an unwillingness to sacrifice beside many people who were losing their jobs and homes. The job security may have been the biggest envy.

    No one has to agree with any of those conclusions. But everyone better listen. Because that’s what they’re saying.


  31. - A guy... - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    BTW Willie, the paragraph breaks are for you.


  32. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    @ A guy:

    They may be saying it but it’s utter nonsense.


  33. - A guy... - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 2:24 pm:

    Shared that thought with you Demoralized. There’s a giant perception problem that needs to be dealt with. It’s a lot cheaper than the cost of backing candidates who don’t win.


  34. - drew - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 2:35 pm:

    - A guy… -
    Well, it’s great that people are convinced that government is efficient in any way, but what specifically can they identify that should be cut that would have a meaningful impact? What actionable solutions do they have to the problem?

    If all they can come up with is Rauner for gov, then I’m afraid all we’re in for is another four years of of utter gridlock and lack of any progress towards solving Illinois’ problems, which is a truly depressing prospect.


  35. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 2:59 pm:

    @A guy:

    That is true.

    And I don’t disagree with what you have outlined as far as perception goes.


  36. - Holdingontomywallet - Tuesday, Mar 25, 14 @ 5:07 pm:

    “If all they can come up with is Rauner for gov, then I’m afraid all we’re in for is another four years of of utter gridlock and lack of any progress towards solving Illinois’ problems, which is a truly depressing prospect.”

    And you expect Quinn to learn how to govern effectively in the next few months? Is he attending a workshop or something?


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