By David Pendered
A new poll commissioned by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute shows a majority of those polled support programs and additional taxes in order to improve the state’s public schools, train workers, provide child care for working families, and expand health coverage.
These four concepts are at the heart of a public policy initiative GBPI has promoted this election year – People-Powered Prosperity.
“We’re thrilled that the poll revealed widespread support for GBPI’s People-Powered Prosperity vision,” Taifa Butler, GBPI’s executive director, said in a statement Wednesday releasing the poll results.
“Georgians across the state endorse the pillars of our plan to build a stronger and more inclusive economy, focused on educated youth, skilled workers, thriving families and healthy communities,” Butler said.
The statewide telephone poll was conducted by Mason Dixon Polling & Strategy from July 9 through July 11. The poll included 625 registered voters representing proportionate numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents, as well as white and African American voters, according to GBPI. The margin of error was +/- 4 percent.
On the revenue side, the poll gauged support for GBPI’s proposal to raise $1 billion a year to pay for the initiatives. That’s close to the $900 million in new taxes the Legislature approved in 2015 to pay for transportation improvements.
The poll raised four questions that involve the cigarette tax and business taxes.
- Cigarette tax – Georgia taxes at 37 cents a pack and GBPI asked about raising that by $1 a pack. Respondents said: Support, 76 percent; oppose, 17 percent; undecided, 7 percent. A deeper look at the results shows support was strongest among Republicans (81 percent), followed by independents (76 percent) and Democrats (72 percent).
- Tax breaks for private companies – GBPI asked about the desire to evaluate corporate tax breaks to determine their effectiveness and if the breaks should be renewed. Respondents said: Support, 88 percent; oppose, 6 percent; undecided, 6 percent.
- Minimum corporate tax – Given that 90 percent of corporations that file corporate tax returns in Georgia report no taxable income, should a minimum tax be established. Respondents said: Support, 78 percent; oppose, 12 percent; undecided, 10 percent.
On the spending side, respondents supported – by overwhelming margins – each of the nine questions that gauged sentiments about policies that support People-Powered Prosperity. Here are some highlights:
- Public education – How important is it for lawmakers to review the 33-year-old Quality Basic Education Law that determines school funding? Respondents said: Very important, 61 percent; Somewhat important, 18 percent; Not too important, 10 percent; not important, 7 percent; not sure, 4 percent.
- Public education – If the review of QBE recommends additional funding, would you support it. Respondents said: Support, 72 percent; oppose, 15 percent; undecided, 13 percent. A deeper look at the results showed support was strongest among Democrats, at 85 percent, with support at 61 percent among Republicans and 71 percent among independents. Support was within the margin of error by region, gender, age and race of respondents.
- Technical training – Would you support tuition-free technical training for high school graduates? Respondents said: Support, 75 percent; oppose, 14 percent, undecided, 11 percent.
- Mental health, substance abuse – Should the state provide funding to help those with issues. Respondents said: Support, 87 percent; oppose, 6 percent; undecided, 7 percent.. A deeper dive into the results showed support strongest among Democrats (93 percent), followed by independents (87 percent) and Republicans (81 percent).