As November elections draw closer, citizens in Illinois have some strong messages for candidates stumping along the campaign trail. One of those messages, loud and clear, is this: “Don’t raise taxes.”
The Illinois Policy Institute’s recently released poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies from June 15-17, reveals some interesting – and telling – results about how Illinois voters feel about taxes, government spending, and state government. For example, a large majority of Illinois voters (76 percent) think the state is on the wrong track. Additionally, 60 percent of state voters say state government is spending too much money, while a majority prefers cutting state spending rather than raising taxes.
When asked the following question — “As you may know, Illinois has a projected budget of 13 billion dollars. To close that shortfall, would you rather cut spending on important programs or have your taxes raised?” – 49 percent of voters wanted to cut spending instead of seeing their taxes raised.
Will candidates listen? Here are some more key findings from the poll:
A large majority of voters across party lines think the state is on the wrong track.
Over 60 percent of Illinois voters say the state government is spending too much money.
A plurality of voters (49 percent) wants to cut state spending on important programs rather than having their taxes raised.
A majority of voters would choose a candidate that will cut spending.
Over 50 percent of voters across party lines favor amending the Illinois state constitution to place a limit on state spending growth.
A majority of “soft GOPers” and “independents” support a candidate lowering state employee compensation to the level of the private sector during the state’s budget crisis.
Regardless of party, a large majority of voters want a candidate who supports making it easier to start and operate a small business.
The Illinois Policy Institute launched its Illinois Turnaround Tour last week, traveling downstate to Decatur and Springfield. This week, the tour hits Schaumburg and Joliet. The Turnaround Plan includes stopping out-of-control state spending, expanding government transparency, reforming our bankrupt state pension system, and removing government roadblocks to prosperity. On each of the stops, the Institute is offering a forum for candidates from both sides of the aisle to introduce themselves and discuss policy issues crucial for turning our state around in 2010 and beyond.
Voters from all political leanings are sending a message to Illinois state government, and it would do candidates well to listen. Voters see the need to cut spending, see the need for more work on pension reform, and do not want to see more money coming out of their pockets for higher taxes. Families and businesses are struggling in Illinois, and as the Illinois Policy Institute’s recent poll suggests, the people have had enough of business as usual. There is a great opportunity for real change to come to Illinois if leaders respond to the call.
Kate Piercy is the director of government reform at the Illinois Policy Institute.