Texans Oppose Tax Hikes, Spending Cuts, Poll Finds

Feb. 24, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas — Texans continue to oppose raising taxes to close the state's budget shortfall but also strongly reject cutting spending on education, health care, criminal justice or environmental regulation to balance the budget, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll released this week.

The poll of 800 registered voters was conducted Feb. 11-17, a month into a legislative session that has been dominated by discussions about how to fill a budget gap estimated as high as $27 billion.

When asked about specific tax proposals, 94 percent said they oppose implementing a state income tax, 85 percent oppose raising the sales tax and 61 percent oppose eliminating the state's August sales tax holiday.

Overwhelming majorities of respondents also reject a laundry list of possible cuts, including 82 percent who oppose reducing the state's share of public education funding and 87 percent who oppose ending funding for the children's health insurance program.

"The poll reveals that we really want to slash the budget, but not anything in it," says Government Professor Daron Shaw, who oversees the poll along with James Henson, a Government Department lecturer and director of the university's Texas Politics Project.

Respondents, however, were open to other strategies to fill the budget hole. Nearly three-quarters would support at least some expansion of legalized gambling and nearly two-thirds say the state should spend at least some money from its $9.4 billion "rainy day" fund.

"If you're assuming the results of the last election mean you should cut and that people meant government should completely go away, you're overreaching," says Henson.

The poll also revealed that Texans have an overwhelmingly negative view about the direction of the country and the job performance of federal officials but are more evenly split about how things are going in the state, with 41 percent saying Texas is headed in the right direction and 41 percent saying it's headed down the wrong track.

Providing an early glimpse into Texas' 2012 U.S. Senate race, the poll showed Lt. Gov. Dewhurst garnering support from 27 percent of likely GOP voters, with no other candidate in the crowded primary receiving more than 5 percent support. Fifty-two percent of respondents remain undecided.

None of the three potential Democratic candidates listed in the poll — former Comptroller John Sharp, former Congressman Chet Edwards and former Congressman Chris Bell —  have more than 16-percent support in a potential primary.

This is the latest in a series of online polls conducted jointly by the Texas Politics Project and the Texas Tribune. The results and methodology are available at the Texas Politics Project Web site.

For more information, contact: Gary Susswein, Office of the President, 512-471-4945; James Henson, 512-471-0090; Daron Shaw, 512-232-7275.

14 Comments to "Texans Oppose Tax Hikes, Spending Cuts, Poll Finds"

1.  Aaron Shannon said on Feb. 24, 2011

Apparently, the people of Texas have trouble doing basic math. You can't cut revenues and maintain services. I am afraid that our electorate is too ignorant to effectively guard their democracy.

2.  Skeptic said on Feb. 24, 2011

We want to have a cake and eat it too.

3.  Fed Up! said on March 3, 2011

Wait a minute! I just saw Gov. Perry on national TV plugging his new book, taking credit for how well Texas' economy was! Maybe if he spent some time governing instead of being a writer and doing a book tour, we'd be in a better position. MAYBE if our Congress started focusing on jobs instead of trying to legislate inside a woman's body, we'd be in a better position!

4.  Raymond H. Brennan said on March 3, 2011

This is not just an indictment of our educational system but of the information being furnished to our citizens by the, so called, main stream media. Knowing the real facts of our economy they choose to withhold or alter those facts for political reasons. Fact 1. You cannot tax your way out of a recession. Fact 2. Corporations are tax collectors for the govt. They pass all imposed taxes on to the consumer so anyone who tells you we have to raise corporate taxes is a lying demogogue. 3. You cannot continue to spend more than you make. That goes for govt. or persons. There is no money tree. 4. In an honest effort to help the needy we set up programs that are immediately corrupted by the lazy and the selfish to the point of being unsustainable. Government assistance programs do not work because government supervisors are afraid to challenge anyone who abuses the program. In the private sector they would be fired. In the public sector they get promoted to maintain the good old boy's club. It's time the decent, hard working people of this country got a decent hard working government.

5.  Michael Henry said on March 3, 2011

How unrealistic....no cuts in services, and no new taxes...someone will need a magic pencil...if there is a broad spread of taxes, so everyone shares in the recovery, maybe there is hope...otherwise, forget it!
And the legislature has lost the key to the "catastropy fund"...

6.  J.D. said on March 3, 2011

There must be an equitable way to manage the budget. Why is corporate welfare preferable to the poor or middle-class programs? No matter how much we give away to corporations, it will never be enough and they will continue to hold us hostage. The fact is, if the poor and middle class do not create the demand, the corporations will close up anyway.

7.  Tom Rugg said on March 3, 2011

Any day now (since the lege is about through handling the governor certified "emergencies") the Comptroller will revise the revenue forcast for the upcoming biennium and, like magic, the budget crisis will disappear. Then Texas can continue its merry march to the bottom of the states in every measureable category of government service including education and health care. However, we will have the most executions and remain at the top in incarceration rates.

8.  Raymond H. Brennan said on March 3, 2011

To comment 6, the reason poor and middle class welfare programs don't work is they are administered by political whim and there is no such program as corporate welfare. Don't just make charges. What is corporate welfare and how do they hold us hostage?
To comment 7. Why do you think you are being misled about the states financial condition? Do you seriously wish your life to be subject to "governmental services" such as health care? Believe me, the govt. will happily accept every right you surrender to them in your effort to obtain security through the beaurocracy. You will wake up one day with neither rights nor security.

9.  Judith Morris said on March 3, 2011

Speaking as a native, I've never before felt embarrassed to be a Texan, but certainly do now. Those "in charge" and those who voted to put them there are showing their ignorance, short-sightedness, and utter selfishness--and are appallingly proud of it!

10.  J.D. said on March 4, 2011

To comment 8: Corporate welfare is a term describing a government's bestowal of money grants, tax breaks, subsidies or other special favorable treatment on corporations or selected corporations. Example: oil companies still get subsidies even though their profits lately are the biggest in recorded history on the planet. Many large corporations pay little or no taxes with all the loopholes provided by the tax structure even though they are enjoying the largest profits in history. How can we justify that? I hear all the time that we can't discontinue subsidies or we have to keep lowering taxes on corporations because they threaten to leave our city/state/country if we don't. Big money has bought our Congress and we should all be concerned about that. If we really care about lowering our deficit, perhaps we should start there.

11.  Michael Henry said on March 6, 2011

It's foolish to think that the demanded balanced budget can be fixed without broadcast taxes, expense cuts, and the use of the so called Rainy Day Fund...it will take all 3 to get Texas back into a leadership role, that it lost years ago...

12.  Raymond H. Brennan said on March 7, 2011

To comment 10-What exactly are the "subsidies" that the oil companies get? Tell us what and how. Further, you talk about "the largest profit in history". Please tell all of us uninformed people how much those oil companies invested to generate those profits. To talk about net profits without talking about the capital investment necessary to generate those profits is great demogoguery but lousy economics.

13.  A Redding said on March 8, 2011

Simple economics = to make $; we have to spend $. If there is not any $ to make (w/o jobs), then there isn't any $ to spend. Raising taxes to keep from cutting education budgets, I can deal with. Cutting back on some of the welfare programs funding...may be unfair to those receiving it but not to others. The US as a whole have overspent. Some of us are suffering. I see a number of higher class barely suffering. I see major corporations higher management living as if nothing changed. If nothing else, that must be seen as a problem. I am sure there are a number of programs that can be cut across the board w/o taking away from education and healthcare.

14.  J.D. said on March 9, 2011

@ comment 12 Please view this link. Bottom line is that there are serious inequities that have to be corrected if this country is going to move forward. It's a corporation's job to make money but it does not have the country's best interest in mind. That's the government's job and even they started to fail when congressmen were convinced by big corporations to strip away protections over the last few decades. We have to get back on track if we, as a country, want to compete.