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Tax Increase Gets Thumbs Down in Poll of Likely Valley Voters; Most Spending Cut Ideas Rejected

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It's a bit counter-intuitive, admits local anti-tax activist Tom Jenney.

The results of a new poll show that likely voters in Phoenix and Glendale don't want a tax increase, and they don't want to cut spending, either.

"There is no such thing as a free lunch," says Jenney, the director of the local Americans for Prosperity group. "We either have to increase taxes or we have to cut spending. Or, we have to increase borrowing or find a new revenue source outside of traditional taxation."

The Arizona Republic ran with half of the poll story in this morning's edition -- the part about how public support for the Phoenix Coyotes is "faltering."

Jenney says the first news release was sort of a teaser, and the group waited till today to release the other results -- the part about how likely Valley voters seem to hate Governor Jan Brewer's billion-dollar tax increase.

The punch-line: The only thing people seem to like is a proposal to expand gambling at dog and horse racing tracks.

AFP's latest release:

AFP Arizona Releases Poll Results:
Likely Voters Oppose Tax Increases

Respondents Reject Deficit-Reducing Options,
Support Constitutional Spending Limit

PHOENIX - Likely voters in Phoenix and Glendale rejected sales and income tax increases by large majorities, in poll results released today by the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP Arizona), a taxpayer watchdog group committed to fiscal responsibility and limited government.

Gov. Jan Brewer's proposed billion-dollar-a-year tax increase fared badly in the poll, with 62 percent of respondents in Phoenix opposed, and 64 percent in Glendale. Opposition to tax increases crossed party lines, with 47 percent of self-identified "strong Democrats" in Phoenix opposed, and 52 percent in Glendale.

Respondents also rejected by wide margins a ballot proposition that would allow the state Legislature to make cuts to areas of the state budget that are currently protected from cuts, including parts of K-12 education and state health care programs for the poor.

"The poll results suggest that there's no point in the Legislature trying to fix Prop 105 at the ballot," said AFP Arizona director Tom Jenney, referring to the constitutional provision that makes it nearly impossible for the Legislature to make reductions to voter-mandated spending programs.

The least unpopular of the short-term deficit fixes was a proposal to sell state assets, including public lands, and privatize state functions. Fifty-five percent of respondents in Phoenix opposed the proposal, as did 52 percent in Glendale. The only short-term deficit fix that won approval of majorities of respondents was a proposal to allow gaming at horse and dog racing tracks to generate new revenues for the state.

"Nearly all of the deficit-reducing options are unpopular," Jenney said, "so our elected officials may as well vote on principle." AFP Arizona has urged the governor and legislators to hold fast to conservative principles and balance the budget by reducing spending, privatizing state functions, and selling state assets.

For a long-run solution to the state's recurring budget woes, the poll asked likely voters how they felt about a constitutional amendment that would keep the state government from increasing its budget faster than the rate of growth of the state economy. Seventy percent of respondents in Phoenix and 78 percent in Glendale supported the proposal.

"The spending limit reform won't fix our current problems," Jenney said, "but it would go a long way toward preventing a budget deficit crisis in the next recession. At some point, the state of Arizona needs to get off the fiscal rollercoaster."

Completed Monday night, March 23rd, the polling effort surveyed 300 likely voters in both Phoenix and Glendale on local and state-level tax and budget issues. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a firm with extensive experience in polling Arizona citizens. AFP Arizona released the survey results for local issues yesterday.

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