by David Ammons | March 2nd, 2010
Washington lawmakers, struggling with a $2.8 billion budget gap, generally acknowledge that deep spending cuts will be required, but they’re still sparring over whether to also rely heavily on tax hikes. Not much guidance from a new statewide poll that shows similar conflicting views among the electorate.
Although a sizable chunk (37 percent) wouldn’t support new taxes, 63 percent said it would at least be part of the solution. The latter voters gave a mixed reply when asked whether the tax package should be anchored by a temporary sales tax increase “so everybody pays” or rely on more targeted taxes, mostly paid on discretionary purchases like candy, cigarettes and bottled water.
“No majority for anything – a majority against everything,” independent pollster Stuart Elway said Tuesday. Elway polled 405 registered voters by phone over the weekend, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
Democratic majorities seem to be settling on a tax package of roughly $900 million, although the two chambers haven’t settled on the composition. The balance, about $1.9 billion, would come from spending cuts ($838 million in Senate proposal and $653 million in House plan), federal aid, use of the state’s reserve account, and other fund transfers.
Elway’s poll showed:
- Republicans (78 percent) favored deep spending cuts, including 47 percent who favor no tax hikes. Democrats narrowly (51 percent) supported doing deep cuts, including 28 percent who could accept a no-new-taxes position. Independents were midway between the partisans, favoring deep cuts, but also open to some tax hikes.
- The “all-cuts” solution was supported by 37 percent. The opposite end of the spectrum, no cuts, was backed by 8 percent. Others supported a mix of cuts and taxes.
- A sales tax surcharge was supported by 23 percent. Other taxes were backed by 28 percent.