Survey: Majority prefers income taxes over sales taxes to deal with ‘fiscal cliff’

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BATON ROUGE – The second of six reports from the 2018 Louisiana Survey, a project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School for Mass Communication, shows a bipartisan majority of Louisiana residents (56 percent) support lowering state income tax rates in exchange for eliminating some deductions as a means to deal with the “fiscal cliff.” The survey’s second report, released today, further reveals that the income tax proposal is more popular than proposals to reduce the state sales tax rate in exchange for applying it to more purchases or to renew the temporary sales tax increase from 2016.

“The results from this report indicate that Louisianans recognize the seriousness of the state’s budget challenges and are willing to consider an array of policy options to deal with it,” said Michael Henderson, director of the Public Policy Research Lab, which conducted the survey.

Additional results of the survey include:

  • 87 percent of respondents recognize that Louisiana faces budget problems, while 59 percent say these problems are “very serious.”
  • Two other proposals for avoiding the fiscal cliff also received more support than opposition: Continuing the reductions to business tax exemptions (53 percent support / 38 percent oppose) and addressing the fiscal cliff only with spending cuts (52 percent support / 37 percent oppose).
  • The public is split over a proposal to rewrite the state’s constitution, with 46 percent supporting and 44 percent opposing. However, even among supporters of a convention to rewrite the constitution, most prefer to keep current protections for spending.
  • There has been a sharp increase in the shares of Louisiana residents who say that the state sales tax and state income tax are too high, yet most Louisiana residents nevertheless prefer to raise taxes to pay for elementary & secondary education, higher education and transportation than to cut spending for these areas.
  • State residents are more familiar with how sales tax in Louisiana has changed in recent years and how it compares to most other states than they are with the state’s income taxes on individuals and households. Most correctly believe that the state sales tax is highertoday than in January 2016. Only 27 percent know that Louisiana’s income taxes on individuals and households are lower than in most other states.
  • Most state residents believe spending can be cut without reducing services, including 83 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats.

The Louisiana Survey has been conducted each year since 2003 and twice in 2006, establishing rich longitudinal measures of public opinion in Louisiana. The mission of the Louisiana Survey is to establish benchmarks as well as to capture change in residents’ assessments of state government services. The survey is further dedicated to tracking public opinion on the contemporary policy issues that face the state. Each iteration of the Louisiana Survey contains core items designed to serve as barometers of public sentiment, including assessments of whether the state is heading in the right direction or wrong direction, perceptions about the most important problems facing the state, as well as evaluations of public revenue sources and spending priorities.

The survey is a project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, an integral part of the Manship School of Mass Communication. The Reilly Center’s mission is to generate thoughtful programs, dialogue and research about mass communication and its many faceted relationships with social, economic and political issues.

Read the full second report from the Louisiana Survey. Find an archive of past Louisiana Surveys and results here.