A new poll, conducted by the Manhattan Institute shows that voters are supportive of government reform efforts and reject the notion that taxes should be increased to address government funding shortfalls. But other findings show knowledge of, and support for, recent changes in collective bargaining laws are mixed.
The poll results show that the general public remains skeptical of government and its continuing fiscal problems. They realize there was a state budget crisis here and reject taxes as a way to fix the mess. They support the concept of labor reforms like merit pay and changes in benefits, but they don’t yet understand how the overhaul of the bargaining process was necessary to achieve these reforms and solve the fiscal crisis at every level of government in Wisconsin. However, I strongly believe these poll results show that over time as we witness more examples of how the new labor laws benefit taxpayers, the recently passed reforms will gain popularity.
Noted Democratic Pollster Douglas Schoen conducted a series of polls for the Manhattan Institute. One poll surveyed national attitudes and several other discovered the opinions of voters in certain states.
The findings in Wisconsin, the epicenter of efforts to change the way public employees are compensated, show that voters are supportive of concepts like merit pay but many have yet to make the connection that such reforms are unlikely without serious reforms in the collective bargaining process.
- A majority (55%) of Wisconsin voters say that the new law has helped either a great deal or somewhat in erasing Wisconsin’s $3 billion budget deficit.
- By 61% to 35%, Wisconsin voters reject the idea of paying more taxes to keep public employee benefits at their present levels if their state faces budget problems.
- An even larger majority of Wisconsin voters (66%) reject the idea of accepting service cuts to keep public employee benefits at their current levels if their state faces budget problems.
- Wisconsin voters are split between cutting government spending (38%) and requiring current public employees to contribute more to their pensions (38%) – as the best way to address the problem of not being able to pay for public employee benefits.
- 60% favor reducing benefits if the state cannot afford them. But a plurality feel that the budget crisis was caused by mismanagement and that benefits earned through collective bargaining were fairly gained.
- An overwhelming majority (72%) of Wisconsin voters say that a teacher should be laid off based on a performance evaluation. •8% say that a teacher should be laid off based on seniority, and 4% say based on student test scores.
- When given the choice between reforming collective bargaining and reforming employee benefits, voters opt for reforming benefits 49% to 37%.
- Wisconsin voters divide evenly when asked if from what they know, government can fire ineffective teachers with the current collective bargaining protections in place. 34% yes, 33% say no, and 34% are not sure.