The final batch of poll results released by CFV show rising concerns about Vermonter's safety and the new payroll tax. Results also showed that the legislature's effort to increase their pay and benefits did not sit well with voters and a surprising level of support was found for a hypothetical Taxpayer Bill of Rights policy that mirrors Colorado.
One of the most surprising findings overall in this poll has been the prevalence of public safety concerns. When we asked respondents how safe they personally felt in their community, only 35% felt very safe. Nearly a third of respondents felt unsafe. Overall, the state appears to have fallen 9% on this metric since last year and are now in line with the rest of New England according to a 2022 report. Concerns around safety were felt most acutely by residents in Rutland and Chittenden counties, as well as Republicans, families with children, and young people.
When asked about the newly enacted payroll tax to expand childcare services for upper middle income families, the majority of respondents opposed it. There were differences along party lines and education levels. One important thing to note here is that one question is not likely to get at the complexity of this particular issue. We tried to get at the overall use of the funds collected by this new revenue source and what people thought about that as a concept. There are a number of other policies in the childcare arena that could be explored and may be more popular than the subsidy expansion component.
There was much fanfare at the end of the 2023 legislative session around the proposal to increase legislative pay and install a state employee-like benefits package. In case you missed our 2021 report, state employees receive some of the most generous benefits of all workers in the state. The question we asked poll respondents around this was whether or not they would be more or less likely to vote for legislator who had supported this measure. Unsurprisingly, this was not a popular policy among voters with two-thirds saying they would be much less likely to vote for a candidate who had supported this proposal. Only 6% found this expansion of salaries and benefits favorable.
The final question asked of respondents was about support for a Taxpayer Bill of Rights system similar to Colorado. Such a system would limit state spending increases to the same rate as inflation or population growth. Any tax increases beyond this threshold would need to be approved by voters. Two-thirds of respondents favored such a system. Ultimately, more respondents (17%) were unsure of the proposal than were opposed to it (16%). This could be a popular issue if legislators pursued a version of this for Vermont.
Updated 12/17/2023 @ 10:32am