CARBONDALE - No matter how they promise to fix Illinois' growing budget deficit, politicians haven't done enough to convince a majority of voters any of it is a good idea, says the latest results of a statewide poll.
A majority of participants asked oppose new taxes, but majorities also do not want cuts in some of the most expensive services the state provides. Those findings in the latest poll results from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale remain consistent with previous polls taken in 2008 and 2009, officials said.
The findings reveal shortcomings in the arguments state leaders and candidates use to promote their particular viewpoint, said one local political expert. The statewide poll of 1,000 registered voters was taken Sept. 30 through Oct. 10, and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
"These results show that the current campaigns for governor and other state offices have completely failed to educate the Illinois public about the size of the deficit and what steps are realistic to address a problem of this magnitude," John Jackson, a visiting professor at the institute and one of the designers of the poll, said. "People seem to want simple and easy solutions to a problem which has been growing for years and a deficit which is of such a size that no easy solutions are left."
When asked what should be done about the state's $13 billion deficit, 57 percent said the state has plenty of money and needs to cut waste and fraud. 26.6 percent said more revenue is needed along with budget cuts, and 9.3 percent said the state needs a tax increase to balance the budget. There were 7.1 percent who said they had not thought much about the issue or had no opinion.
When presented with specific proposals that could lead to substantial revenue increases for the state, increasing the income tax was the most popular option, with 40.9 percent favoring it. But 56.2 percent were opposed.
The state's budget crisis, however, also has roots in its ethical problems, institute director David Yepsen said.
"Our political leaders have no credibility to level with people on this issue," he said. "This state, by the numbers, is in one of the worst positions of any in the states, and what has to happen here will be different than in other states. Other states have a cold; we have pneumonia."
Source: The Southern