February 15th, 2011

A new People’s Pulse survey is circulating around the state Capitol, giving state lawmakers some guidance on how the public views the state’s budget challenges.

The message is a little contradictory.

Nearly half of respondents — 46% — believe the state should reduce the cost of government by decreasing expenses through public-worker furloughs and wage freezes. Twenty-four percent want to keep spending the same by increasing taxes and fees to generate more funding. Twenty-one percent would reduce the size of government by cutting programs and jobs. Nine percent did not know or refused to answer.

But respondents also opposed a variety of deficit reduction measures, with the most opposition — 78% — against raising income taxes, followed by a general-excise tax increase, at 68%.

Here is the breakdown of the opposition to the other measures presented:

*Cutting government services: 64%

*Raising taxes on business income: 58%

*Freezing wages, pension and health benefits: 58%

*Raising or imposing new fees: 55%

*Shortening days government is open to the public: 53%

*Cutting government jobs: 52%

Respondents were also hesitant to part with government services.

Nearly half wanted to preserve spending on welfare, tourism, transportation, fighting crime and drug abuse, and the environment as it is today. Respondents wanted to see more spending on education and children and youth. The largest support for budget cutting? Thirty-five percent want less welfare spending.

The winter People’s Pulse survey was taken by OmniTrak Group Inc. for the Hawaii Business Roundtable and the Pacific Resource Partnership. The survey is based on telephone interviews with 700 people statewide between Jan. 4 and Jan. 16.

The findings on the GET, in particular, could be comforting to lawmakers who have been holding out against an increase in the broad-based tax. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has also continued to resist a GET increase, although he has said he would have to consider it if passed by lawmakers instead of his deficit-reduction plan.

Here is a statement from Donalyn Dela Cruz, Abercrombie’s spokeswoman, today:

The Governor is not in favor of raising the GET; that is why it was not part of his financial plan and legislative package.  Raising the GET has a disproportionate impact on people with lower incomes. The Governor’s proposals protect taxpayers with lower incomes.  His proposals may not be politically popular, but they are honest, fair, and advance the policies that the people of Hawaii want and expect.

Raising the GET also has a negative impact on the overall business climate.  The Governor’s plan stimulates economic activity, especially for local small businesses and in emerging sectors like energy and agriculture.

If a measure to raise the GET passes out of the legislature because other elements of his plan are not adopted, he will of course consider it as the people’s will. In the end, all must work together, not just to balance the budget, but more importantly to help Hawaii recover and reinvest in our priorities.

4 Responses to “Pulse”

  1. Chicken Grease:

    GET the heck out they like raise our GET and other taxes.

    “Cutting government jobs: 52%” should be a little higher; hope the poll takers somehow asked if, in fact, responders are employed by the state.

    Remove the reality disguised-as-local-joke/myth too long of the overage of state workers standing around to do a job that’d take only a few of ‘em (if not one) of them to finish; audit those getting public services’ bank accounts to determine if they should continue to get free services and free money (don’t ASK them via annual fill-out form and sign here, please; you know?). Yeah. Tough decisions, but, these happen to be simple decisions, too.

    Then see how much money you save, state of Hawaii.

  2. zzzzzz:

    Wow, big surprise.

    No wonder the legislators and guv have such a hard time making tough choices–we have an electorate that wants to have its cake and eat it too.

  3. Michael:


    Get more people working and those paying taxes now,
    are less burdened.

  4. charles:

    The poll results are predictable. The majority of those polled don’t want to cut government services but don’t want to pay more taxes/fees.

    Interestingly enough, no category of cuts, including welfare, was supported by a majority of those polled. Indeed, by wide margins, they supported INCREASING spending in areas like children and youth and education.

    So how do legislators make sense of this in light of a $800 million deficit?

Leave a Reply