The public is never going to show overwhelming enthusiasm for taxes, so please, spare us the "we need pressure to do our jobs!" line of reasoning. It would be like showing overwhelming enthusiasm for going to the dentist. Just not going to happen. Taxes aren't fun, neither is the dentist, deep down we all want that free lunch that Ronald Reagan promised us, BUT, responsible people know that you have to go to the dentist, responsible people know the free lunch doesn't exist, and responsible people know that you have to support education, public safety and health care to have any sort of quality of life in this state.
The public, believe it or not, can be a fairly responsible bunch when you don't spend all your time making them angry - as poll after poll after poll has now shown us. Apparently we have a bunch of slow learners in the Legislature though, so here we go again:
Governor Granholm and the Legislature must balance the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2011 and eliminate a budget deficit of up to $1.8 billion. Which of the following statements best describes how you think Governor Granholm and the Michigan Legislature should balance the state budget?
28% - By only cutting existing programs and services, with no increase in any state taxes or fees
15% - By cutting state programs and services, but also relying on some increases in taxes and fees to raise revenue
26% - By equally relying on cuts in state programs or services, and increasing taxes and fees to raise revenue
9% - By mostly increasing taxes, and but also relying on some cuts in programs and services
9% - By only increasing taxes and fees, with no further cuts in state programs or services
13% Undecided/Don’t know/Refused to answer
If my calculator is working right, that shows 59% of the people are OK with raising at least some taxes. Yes, there are some that say they want more cuts, but the majority of people understand the need for revenue as well. Chances are, if you got specific on the cuts, the public would reject them - but we haven't come to that point. Yet.
This poll contains detailed descriptions on the proposals already out there - those being from Governor Granholm and the Senate Republicans. It should be noted that, once again, there is no proposal from Dillon or the House Democrats. How did that work out for us last year?
When you break down the specifics, things start to get muddy. Go read the poll for the wording; here is the very brief version:
Early retirement for state employees: 50%-41% support.
Reducing sales tax rate, expanding to services: 47%-45% support.
Expanded sales tax to reduce MBT rate, eliminate surcharge: 46%-37% support.
Bishop's 5% cut to pay plan: 48%-47% oppose.
State employees pay 20% towards health care: 57%-39% support.
Bet if they tested "graduated income tax" it would poll better than all the others... but we are stuck with the Legislature we have - not the Legislature we wish we had.
For a few more months anyway.