Skip to comments.Arizona lawmakers rate higher than peers
Posted on 10/06/2010 3:19:57 PM PDT by SandRat
SIERRA VISTA While most Arizonans believe that major changes are needed in the state budgeting process, they also have the highest opinion of their lawmakers out of five states faced with similar severe budget issues, according to a study out today.
The study, Facing Facts: Public Attitudes and Fiscal Realities in Five Stressed States, found that one-third of Arizonans trust their state government all or most of the time. That rating was higher than those of the respondents from all other states in the survey, which included California, Florida, Illinois and New York. Along with Florida, the Grand Canyon State also had the fewest number of people say that state government, as a whole, is too big.
The survey was conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California and interpreted by the Pew Center on the States. The five states included were chosen because they showed some of the worst stresses during the recession, including some of the highest unemployment numbers, largest state budget gaps or biggest home foreclosure rates in the country.
Collectively, the budget gaps of these five state represent about half of the total budget shortfalls of all 50 states.
Despite its budget troubles, nearly 45 percent of residents say they think Arizona is going in the right direction, about 10 percent higher than the nearest state, Florida, and more than twice as high as the percentage of United States citizens who feel the same about the federal government.
Overwhelmingly, those surveyed in each state said they would prefer their legislators cut spending as their first means of balancing their states budgets, with raising taxes and borrowing funds falling far behind.
When we gave people a chance to choose how to handle the states budget situations, the respondents consistently chose borrowing less, as opposed to the other options, said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California.
When asked which services they would be willing to pay more taxes for in order to prevent further cuts, seven out of 10 Arizonans selected K-12 education, followed by health and human services (56 percent), higher education (41 percent), prisons and corrections (27 percent) and transportation (22 percent).
Even though Arizona voters recently passed a temporary sales tax increase, if it came to the point where further tax increases were unavoidable, another increase in sales tax, or making the temporary increase permanent, would not be their preferred option.
Following closely with those surveyed in the other four states, Arizonans polled singled out alcohol and tobacco sales, followed by corporate taxes, as the areas that should be the first to see increases if needed to help close any budget gaps. Only 20 percent of Arizona residents said they would favor increased personal income taxes. That rating tied with New York with the lowest approval.
The study found those areas that residents most favor increasing the taxes of, if necessary, do not represent a major source of state taxes.
A corporate tax increase is at least 26 percent more popular among Arizonans than raising personal income taxes or making permanent a temporary sales tax increase, the study reads. But of $11.3 billion in total taxes Arizona collected in fiscal year 2009, only $600 million (5.3 percent) was from corporate income taxes.
At least 1,000 people were polled in each state for the survey, which was conducted between June 3 and June 20 of this year. Residents were polled via landline and cell phone, and interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, depending on the respondents preferences.
AT A GLANCE
Most Arizonans first choice for balancing the state budget is to cut spending, but theres apparently also a willingness to pay higher taxes to support some but not all current services.
About 83 percent of those surveyed said they were very or somewhat concerned about the effect of spending reductions on government services.
Most said they would pay higher taxes to maintain funding for K-12 school and health and human services. Not so for colleges, prisons and transportation.
The Arizonans surveyed said by a 2-to-1 ratio that they oppose making permanent the temporary sales tax voters approved on May 18 to help balance state budgets.
The revenue-raising idea that drew the most support 54 percent chose it from a short list of options was allowing casino gambling at racetracks.
Nearly half of those surveyed, or 47 percent, identified immigration and illegal immigration as the most important issue facing people in the state, with 7 percent picking the economy and 12 percent saying jobs and unemployment.
It wasn’t our lawmakers who caused the problems. They tried cutting costs many times and Janet brought out her veto pen. That woman was disasterous for this state and now she’s disasterous for the entire country.
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