Divining how Minnesotans want to fix things

Minnesotans pretty clearly think the state’s economy is headed in the wrong direction, and they are increasingly likely to say the vaunted quality of life here is getting worse.

And they certainly weren’t happy with the outcome or the process state leaders used to address Minnesota’s budget problems this year.

Those are some of the top line results of a Wilder Research poll commissioned this month by the Bush Foundation that my colleague Tom Scheck is reporting on today. But what to do about it? One thing the poll shows that some might find surprising is support for cutting the number of people who receive state services.

By now, it shouldn’t be a surprise that most of Wilder’s randomly selected 600 respondents favored a balanced approach to budget problems, wanting to find more revenue AND cut state services. Fifty-seven percent said this. That was pretty clear from the conversations Bush sponsored around the state last month, which I wrote about here on Ground Level.

But the new survey does offer some nuance around people’s priorities.

wilder budget poll.JPG

Heavy majorities say government services should be more efficient and the tax system should be reformed (not necessarily by raising or lowering taxes) to make state revenue more stable. But those are easy things to say and probably wouldn’t really solve the problem.

When you get to some of the hard choices Wilder put to people, almost half (45 percent) said reducing the number of people eligible for state services should be a major part of the state’s budget solution.

That’s interesting for two reasons. First, other questions in the poll established strong support for the notion that government services are critical to life here. (More than four out of five agree with that statement.) People seemed to be saying they want services available but the state has to cut the number of recipients.

And second, by comparison, only a third of the respondents said raising income or sales tax rates should be a major part of solving state budget woes.

There was slightly more support for finding other revenue by broadening the sales tax to food, clothing and Internet sales or by generating new gambling revenue. Thirty-eight percent thought that should be a major part of a budget solution.

You can find all the questions and responses here and Bush’s report here.

Disclosure: MPR News is a partner with the Bush Foundation in its InCommons initiative to find means of helping Minnesotans make connections and deal with challenges.

Comments are closed.