As the state legislative session nears its end, a majority of Texas voters continue to support cutting the state budget, but do not back specific cuts to education and social programs that have taken center stage at the Capitol, according to the February, 2011 University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll.
The statewide poll of 800 registered voters was conducted May 11-18, as the legislature began final discussions about how to fill a budget gap estimated to be as great as $27 billion. The overall results of the survey have a margin of error of 3.46 percent.
When asked about how they prefer to balance the budget, 49 percent of Texans leaned toward budget cuts, with an additional 22 percent saying the budget shortfall should be made up entirely through budget cuts. Another 22 percent said the state's efforts should be evenly split between cutting spending and increasing revenue.
Yet the majority of survey respondents do not support some of the prominent cuts being considered by the legislature. Only 15 percent favored cutting the state's share of funding for primary and secondary education and 27 percent favored cutting state funding of higher education.
Given a list of possible cuts to balance the budget, 40 percent of voters favored ending funding for pre-kindergarten classes, the highest response among the proposed cuts. Thirty-five percent favored reducing state contributions to teacher and state employee retirement programs.
The poll respondents also opposed most new taxes by large margins. Ninety-four percent opposed introducing a state income tax on individuals and 88 percent opposed increasing the state sales tax rate beyond the current 6.25 percent. "Sin taxes" had more support: 49 percent of respondents supported increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages and 62 percent supported legalizing gambling and imposing taxes on gambling establishments.
Discussion of poll results and additional grahpics will be released and available at the Web site throughout June. Results have been initially released by The Texas Tribune.