BY NICHOLAS DIMARTINO
Sacred Heart University recently partnered with GreatBlue Research to conduct a state-wide poll on the quality of life in Connecticut. The poll addressed issues such as the cost of living, tax rates and the Connecticut budget deficit.
“Sacred Heart had a desire to be a leader in understanding the outlook of Connecticut, its residents, and the climate of the state’s public policy,” said Seamus McNamee, senior research director at GreatBlue Research.“We are hoping the poll spurs additional conversations about the goals of Connecticut residents and how to address the current challenges facing the state.”
Leslie DeNardis, Director of Sacred Heart’s Global Studies program and Executive Director of the Institute for Public Policy, said that the creation of the Masters of Public Administration program was what sparked the idea for the poll.
“We decided that as part of the graduate students’ experience, we would involve them in a public opinion poll,” said DeNardis.
According to the results of the poll published by the Institute of Public Policy on Sacred Heart’s website, 30.3 percent of residents believe that the quality of life in Connecticut is declining, while 63.9 percent of residents reported that it was either very difficult, or somewhat difficult to maintain their standard of living.
“These are the ‘nuts and bolts’ issues of people’s lives, and the fact that they’re feeling this pressure is somewhat surprising,” said DeNardis.“People, in general, like Connecticut, but it’s become increasingly harder for them to maintain their quality of life,” she said. “I think the magnitude of our problems are much greater than in other states.”
The highest concerns among residents who participated in the poll are the cost of living and taxes—93.7 percent and 90.9 percent, respectively.
According to McNamee, it is realistic that a significant portion of citizens with higher income could leave Connecticut.
“This would create another set of challenges for the state, businesses, and local municipalities to grapple with,” said McNamee.
Residents have the most confidence in local governments at 53.2 percent, while support for the federal government reached only 18 percent.
About forty percent of residents support lowering the corporate tax, and 41.8 percent support the reduction of business regulations.
“The engine of growth and economic development in Connecticut is through business,” said DeNardis.
Over the next two years, Connecticut is facing a budget deficit of 3 million dollars, even though the state is legally required to balance their budget.
When pressed about how to close the budget deficit, residents were given choices of tax increases, spending cuts and finding new sources of revenue.
“Most of the people responded that they wanted to find new sources of revenue,” said DeNardis.
For new forms of government revenue, 70.6 percent of residents strongly or somewhat support marijuana legalization, and 55.6 percent strongly or somewhat support the establishment of polls on highways. McNamee said it was surprising that 74 percent of residents with children support the legalization of marijuana.
“The legislature did not consider either one of those items in their budget proposal,” said DeNardis.
Public support for higher taxes is at 36.2 percent, and public support for cuts in government entitlements followed at 32.8 percent. The government program residents are most willing to cut spending from is pension funding.
“We hope that our results will lend themselves to the overall policy discussion,” she said.
Sacred Heart is planning to release another poll in December.