Friday, May 7, 2010

Poll Sends Mixed Message on Spending and Taxes

Posted By on Fri, May 7, 2010 at 6:20 PM

Oregonians agree their state has a financial problem, but they don’t agree on what to do about it. In fact, some of their opinions contradict each other.

That seems to be the message of a survey done by the polling firm of Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall Inc.

The telephone survey of 600 Oregonians found that 43% think the state is on the wrong track, 39% think it’s headed in the right direction and 18% don’t know.

Two-thirds of those surveyed think the legislature is going to have trouble balancing the next biennial budget, but they’re deeply divided on how to handle the problem. One-third favor a combination of budget cuts and tax increases, another 33% favor cuts only, and 25% favor tax increases with no cuts.

“You could say there is more tolerance for tax increases than budget cuts,” pollster Adam Davis told the Portland Tribune.

However, when respondents were asked whether they preferred a society with lower taxes and less government services or a “European model” of higher taxes and more services, the lower-tax option was preferred, 52% to 39%.

Then again, when asked about changing the state’s “kicker” law, 53% said they’d favor diverting half of the kicker money into a state reserve fund. “There’s support for reforming the kicker, but it’s very soft,” Davis said.

Bottom line: Oregon politicians aren’t going to get consistent guidance from voters as they grapple with the state’s budget problems – at least if this poll reflects reality.

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