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Yet another poll shows backing for tax hike

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

I posted my syndicated column on Saturday, but comments were disabled. So, let’s do it again, shall we?

As you probably know, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has flatly ruled out an income- or sales-tax hike in exchange for a property-tax cut and more money for education. House Speaker Michael Madigan has said there isn’t sufficient support in his Democratic caucus to pass an income- or sales-tax hike.

But there’s a recent poll out that shows the public disagrees with both politicians. The poll showing majority support for a tax-swap plan also seems to be right in line with previous surveys. In addition, the poll found strong opposition to the governor’s super-controversial gross-receipts-tax plan.

The survey, conducted independently by the Glengariff Group, found that about 57 percent of Illinois voters support a so-called “tax swap,” while just less than 28 percent oppose it.

The question was put to respondents in a very neutral manner and is one of the better polling questions on this subject that I’ve ever seen […]

The poll showed 36.7 percent “strongly support” the tax hike, with 20.5 percent “somewhat” supporting it, 14 percent “somewhat” opposed and 11 percent are “strongly” opposed. Seventeen percent are undecided, according to the survey. […]

The poll found that even a majority of Republican voters supported the tax-swap proposal (52.6 percent, with 31.9 percent saying they “strongly” support it and just 20 percent saying they “strongly” opposed it). A whopping 65 percent of African-American voters say they back the plan, while 53.6 percent of whites say they support it. Females backed it 61.3 to 24, while men supported it 53 to 31.6.

Suburban collar county voters backed the proposal 56.8 to 31. Majorities of downstate voters supported the swap idea except in southern Illinois, where the backing was more tepid. In western and northwestern Illinois, 67.3 percent of voters supported the plan, while 51.8 percent of central Illinoisans backed it and 44.3 percent of southerners endorsed it (with 27.9 percent against and the rest undecided). However, the margins of error are quite high on those numbers since they are such small subsets — so they may be right, but beware.

Several polls in recent months have shown broad support for the tax swap idea. Read the whole thing for those results and discuss below.


  1. - Dan Johnson-Weinberger - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:36 am:

    I think the poll reinforces the fairly widespread belief that an income tax is fairer than a property tax. When someone has a good year, they should pay more. They can afford it. But when someone owns property, it doesn’t matter whether they have a good year or they are laid off — they still have to pay. That’s why (I think) lots of voters believe current taxes are unfair and a shift to a fairer tax (an income tax, particularly a progressive one) resonates with most voters. I think this is especially true with voters who earn less than $50,000 or $60,000 annually and resent that they pay a higher percentage of their income than the people pulling down half a million.

  2. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:40 am:

    I do not trust the current leadership, nor the general level of “ethics” in our General Assembly to do a tax swap correctly. The closer we look at Jones and Blagojevich, the more they look like the kind of politicians we thought we were voting out of office in 2002, not rewarding.

    Tax swaps and flat taxes are simple concepts easy to sell. But with a bunch of power players like the kind we currently see in the GA, I seriously doubt we would get what we bargained for if we gave them the green light.

    Before we rework our taxes, we need to start driving the thieves from Chicago and Springfield.

  3. - one of the 35 - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:46 am:

    I continue to believe that Illinois voters do not trust the Governor or the GA. Why increase taxes in any manner to give more money to people you don’t believe are spending it wisely?

  4. - Truthful James - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:54 am:

    When is a tax swap not a tax swap? When it is proposed by A+ Illinois.

    Tell me how many of those polled realized that a swap was in reality a multi billion dollar overall tax increase.

  5. - tired of GROD - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 10:29 am:

    Please! More money for Blago and Emil to waste on pet projects, family, and friends! More money to waste on the adminstrators of education because no matter how much money they have it is NEVER enough! The current leadership need to be voted out of office before one more ‘extra’ dime goes to their coffers. Tax increases should not even be discussed but rather serious serious budget cuts.

  6. - i d - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 10:39 am:

    No more taxes and no more new programs. Pay existing debts first.

  7. - PalosParkBob - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:04 am:

    When I taught physics to high school students, I always asked the question, “Does how fast you are moving have anything to do with speeding up or slowing down time?” before we started working on General Relativity. I took a vote in each class for “yes” and “no” (the answer is yes, time slows down for a frame of reference relative to everything else as relative velocity increases).

    Invariably, the class voted with a large majority voting incorrectly.

    I told my students not to be embarrassed, and that when people vote on “intuition” rather than from knowledge on technical issues, the result was usually the voters making the wrong choice.

    I told them there were no consequences this time, but the consequences of voting on election day based upon “intuition” rather than knowledge could be devastating for their communities and country.

    These polls, which often grossly oversimplify, if not mislead, those polled are another good example of this condition.

    The concept of “tax swap” sounds good, until you realize that the state makes the “swap” discretionary for the legislature but the income, sales, and service taxes will be mandatory.

    If people really understood the way the “swap” would work and that most will wind up with a net loss to their household budget in most HB750 scenarios, does anyone really think they’d still favor the “swap” even marginally?

    When the HB750 bill was scored for communities by the Tribune on its website the last time it was proposed, the truth exposed the bill for what it was,a simple “lottery” style bait and switch.

    Knowledge is power. That’s why our friends in Springfield wish to deny it to us.

    And polls like this that draw uninformed conclusions certainly hurt more than help.

  8. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:08 am:

    PPBob, this is how the question was asked…

    “Another idea being discussed would raise the state’s income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent, increase the sales tax on some services and increase the state’s corporate income tax. In exchange for these tax increases, property taxes would be reduced by 20 percent to 25 percent for every homeowner on the school portion of their property taxes. The new money raised would be used to increase funding for schools. Do you support or oppose this legislation?”

  9. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:14 am:

    To expand for a bit, of all the polls I’ve seen on this issue, this is the best question asked. Are there problems with it? Sure. But adding your bias to a question does not make it somehow more unbiased.

  10. - Cassandra - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:17 am:

    Depending on how the questions were framed, I suspect that those who polled in favor of the swap believed that the two percent income tax increase would be accompanied by a permanent, significant property tax reduction, thus leaving them better off or at least whole.

    This is not true, of course. It would depend on where they live, but the state cannot dictate whether or not communities raise their property taxes. Local taxing bodies are far more likely to see the swap, if implemented, as an opportunity to further boost property taxes. As the taxes go up, the state relief will be an increasingly smaller portion of the tax bill. But the 2 percent increase will be forever.

    Property tax relief will be fleeting under 750 and most taxpayers probably haven’t figured that out yet. Ask them if they would support the swap even if the property tax relief were temporary and see if the numbers change.

  11. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:35 am:

    Cassandra, you don’t have to guess how the questions were framed, you can simply read the question above or in my column.

  12. - Truthful James - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:49 am:

    What is missing from this boondoggle is transparency.

    In Indiana, all municipal budgets including those of the School Districts are approved by a state agency. The State provides from its revenues various funds including Property Tax relief (varies from ten to 20%) as well as General state Aid.

    A similar effort is needed here — if there was an entity with integrity to which it could be assigned. ISBE does not qualify. At the worst case, suppose one could establish such an entity.

    Each year, schools would submit their budgets for State approval. The State would lower the tax approved for levy by the amount of the subsidy — say 20%. The District could not raise more dollars locally from property taxes than had been approved.

    That would protact the taxpayer locally who has been watching a shell game.

    It would then become obvious how much additional money had been raised from the new State taxes which had not been used for school subsidies.

    We have no transparency now. The local taxpayer would see clearly how much more money the State would have to squander, and his own local property taxes would be protected.

  13. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 12:34 pm:

    We all know what this poll question asked, and how it was answered. We all understand the SPIRIT behind the majority’s responses. So, let’s stop the spinning and respect democracy, shall we?

    We don’t need to know the details. We know what we want. We are willing to address the education funding problems by changing how schools are funded. We understand that our property taxes are too high, and that our income tax is low as compared to other states. A tax swap is an easy sell.

    But don’t be elitist and claim that the majority doesn’t know what it was supporting. Don’t claim they are ignorant or unable to make the correct choice because of intuition. Don’t claim the question was worded wrongly.

    We all get it.

    My only problem is that the people we would be depending on crafting fair legislation seem so unable to think beyond their own political greed. Our current General Assembly and administration is no place for any conversations regarding taxes. They have earned the scorn we see heaped on them.

    We have a governor who is pushing his own presidential ambitions via “nanny state policies with no increased taxes” approach. He is jockeying for some sales angle for 2012’s Democratic nomination and using us as his guinea pigs.

    We have a couple of old farts; Madigan and Jones, who seem only interested in feathering their own castles while our budget burns.

    We have news and rumors that reek of corruption - NO - this is NOT a group of people we should let divvy up our cookies.

    Flat taxes and tax swaps are popular because we can agree behind the spirit behind them. It is when you have a pack of gorillas with stradivariuses torturing us with their version of harmony that the ugly reality sinks in, wrecking the whole idea behind a tax swap.

    Tax swap - yes.
    Blagojevich and Friends - no.

  14. - fed up - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 12:42 pm:

    NO NEW TAXES!!! Blago and Emil Jones waste money on there pet projects and then claim to be broke. Maybe we would have more money for the schools if the admin at chicago state was taking first class air fare going on cruises running up hundered dollar bar bills and not accounting for tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars at all. Giving these people more money is likegiving an alcholic whiskey and beer.

  15. - Bill - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 2:08 pm:

    Vanilla Man says yes to a tax increase, er, I mean, swap. Will wonders never cease? Good job, Rod!

  16. - Southern Man - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 2:10 pm:

    Public support for tax increases always falls once debate begins and the opposition argument is heard. I suspect that will happen here as well.

    Does anyone seriously believe that politicians will raise one tax to lower another, and then leave the tax they lowered where it’s at? Within a few years, property taxes would be right back where they were, and you’d have a permanent increase in the income tax.

  17. - Bill - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 2:28 pm:

    Southern man,
    Exactly! You’ve got the idea!

  18. - Truthful James - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 2:30 pm:

    Southern (Gentle)Man

    See my last post regarding contol and transparency. How’er I dinna believe that the regime wants either. Do you?

    Can you see the City of Chicago Public Schools permitting accountability to a state agency? I thought not.

  19. - A Citizen - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 3:02 pm:

    Bill, welcome back. That’s why I’ve consistently said Abolish the Property Tax - not just prune it a bit. I suppose they could reenact it later but it might be more difficult. The whims of the like of Stroger to just increase the Property Tax whenever they want the easy way out instead of actually governing is very troubling. Playing teeter totter with Sales and Income Taxes is inevitable however the taxpayers can more easily control their vulnerability to them. The Property Tax becomes confiscatory for retired and other fixed income people. It really should be abolished not just “reduced” a bit.

  20. - A. Potter - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 3:21 pm:

    The State of Illinois has bills due, and obligations to students and disabled folks, CTA riders, and bondholders, etc. The legislature/Gov’s competence or lack thereof, while entertaining to debate, doesn’t make those bills go away. The multi=billion dollar debt will accrue to us and our children, not just a few guys in Springfield. We gotta pay up before the interest overwhelms us. The polls show the public gets it.

  21. - Truthful James - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 3:34 pm:

    Mr. Potter –

    Yes there are due bills, but there have been revenues flowing in from the sales tax by the bucketful. Madigan and company refuse to make educated revenue estimates for public consumption. One reason, of course, is that the true numbers will put a burr under the saddle of all those quasi governmental entities who line up at the trough wanting more. If there was a surplus of money, they should get more. Second reason is that revenues fill the pork freezer for his use.

  22. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 4:40 pm:

    Tax swapers do not believe that it would be a tax increase. They believe they would pay the same, just a change would be registered between the property tax bucket and the income tax bucket.

    So, yes to a tax swap does not mean yes to a tax increase, Mr. Bill.

    The fact that you would see it that way clearly demonstrates the other part of my post - the people in charge currently in the GA and in the governor’s office should not be entrusted with this issue. They would use it to screw everyone.

    Keep your money in your pocket Mr. Bill - don’t be so gullible. Government is wasteful. Save your money up for something you might need later on - like a life.

  23. - Bill - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 4:54 pm:

    Mr. VM,
    OK so now you are speaking for all “tax swappers”?
    Actually, most of them know that there will be a big tax increase in any tax “swap” bill. That is why they like it so much. That and the fact that they have not yet realized just how punitive and regressive it really is. After the bills come for a few years, they will be begging for a GRT like budget proposal but it will be too late. Don’t worry too much about my life. It is already paid for.

  24. - Cassandra - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 5:17 pm:

    I don’t think it is disparaging to say that many perhaps most citizens don’t really understand the nuts and bolts of their tax bill. In the US, taxes are complicated. Way too complicated. The GRT would have been a start towards fixing that….oh well.

  25. - fed up - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 5:33 pm:

    The GRT would have been a good Idea if Blago didnt sink it himself by setting the rates to high and scaring the buisnees community. A proposal like ohios would be succesful I think but would not raise the money necasarry for Blagos communist agenda. I am against new taxes for the same reason as many others here. Blago Jones and the rest of the leadership Madigan included cannot be entrusted to spend the tax dollars currently collected Waste cronyism fraud lack of oversite a little belt tightining and a closer look at some programs would be good for the state maybe just maybe our leaders would find some programs that have grown larger then necassary or even programs that are past there usefulness.

  26. - plutocrat03 - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 5:54 pm:

    The first thing the State has to do is stop the spending.

    No tax increase/swap/scheme is going to do anything to resolve the state of finances without revisions in spending.

    A good object lesson was the scheme in Michigan where property tax relief was granted in exchange for a large increase in the sales tax rate. A number of years later, the property taxes are beyond where they were before AND the still have the increased sales tax.

    The polls are funny in the way the questions can manipulate the respondents to give a desired response.

    I do have a question. Why is it when a poll comes out advocating a tax increase we are told to ‘recognize the wisdom ‘of the citizen while when the citizens continue to vote against the expansion of gambling, the do not understand the issues?

    Caution: HB 750 is an attack in the pocketbooks of the populus to fund extravagent spending patterns.

  27. - A Citizen - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 6:10 pm:

    New Question/Poll : Would you support a total deadlock in the legislature on the budget and increased taxes issues? Assume a continuing resolution on spending/taxing equal to last fiscal year to keep state government operating. Answer:
    Yes, Heck Yes, or You Go Baby!

  28. - Crazy Politico - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 10:20 pm:

    Our lovely state has had revenue increase of over 5% for each of the last 3 years, which is a faster gain than inflation. Unfortunately our “make everyone happy” government has increased spending by an average of over 11%/yr in the same time period. When you explain that to (non political) folks who want to raise taxes suddenly they think twice about the idea.

    Maybe when the Governor and cronies in Springfield start understanding how to work a budget I’ll understand why they want more of my money.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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