“There’s no consensus.”
That’s the opinion of opinion-finder Bernie Pinsonat of Southern Media and Opinion Research. His firm polled 600 likely voters last month on the budget situation and participants are as mixed on finding a solution as our elected officials.
Over the next five fiscal years, beginning with the budget that has to be crafted in the spring session, shortfalls will range between $1.4 billion and $1.8 billion — maybe more. Midyear budget cuts are also being implemented in an attempt to right the current fiscal year before it ends June 30.
Lawmakers, to be certain, need answers, but even voters are divided on the issue. For starters, poll participants do not want further cuts to higher education. Nearly 80 percent are opposed. This is bad news for lawmakers. The administration said as much as $300 million in cuts could be in store next fiscal year.
Additionally, only 23 percent of poll participants favor paying additional personal taxes to avoid cuts to state government.
Voters are evenly split on across-the-board cuts to state services to balance the budget, but oppose increasing fees for state services by a 52-40 margin.
Poll participants just barely favored doing away with tax exemptions for specific types of businesses, 48-38, but it provides lawmakers with a bit of cover for considering a temporary suspension of some sales taxes.