By Wisconsin Reporter staff
Wisconsinites are evenly split on their support of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill and the union workers protesting the legislation, according to a new poll sponsored by WisconsinReporter.com.
The poll of 500 likely voters, which was conducted on Monday, Feb.21, showed 50 percent had a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinion of Walker’s bill, while the same percentage had a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion.
Similarly, 49 percent of those polled had a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinion of the protesters, with 48 percent “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable,” and 3 percent undecided.
The results come as the controversy over the $137 million budget repair bill nears the two-week mark Friday. The legislation would require most public employee union members to increase their contributions to pensions and health care plans to 5.8 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively.
The most controversial aspect of the bill, however, calls for the end of most collective-bargaining rights for the state’s public employee unions, who only would be allowed to bargain over salary.
According to the poll, 56 percent say Wisconsin state employees and public employee unions should have collective bargaining powers. Thirty-two percent disagree, and 12 percent of those polled are unsure.
Walker says the changes are necessary to help local governments face the cuts he will propose in the biennial budget he will announce on Tuesday, and he’s calling for a vote on this bill before Friday in order to meet debt-refinancing deadlines.
Fourteen Senate Democrats remain out of state in hopes of preventing, or at least delaying, a vote on the issue. Without them, the Senate doesn’t have the 20-member quorum necessary to bring the bill up for a vote.
More updates to follow…
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Poll Shows 71% of Wisconsinites Think Walker’s Budget Changes are “Fair”
February 24, 2011- Alexandria, VA – Most Wisconsinites believe that Governor Walker’s proposed budget changes that include unions to pay 5.8% of their salary toward the cost of their pensions plans and double their contributions for health care premiums to 12.6% are fair, according to a new poll sponsored by WisconsinReporter.com.
The poll which was conducted on February 21, 2011 of 500 likely voters in Wisconsin also showed a perceived discrepancy between benefits for public and private sector employees, with 69% believing that government workers in their community have better benefits than private sector workers.
“This poll shows that a majority of the people in Wisconsin are standing behind aspects of Governor Walker’s budget reform proposal,” said Jason Stverak, President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a national nonprofit journalism organization which operates WisconsinReporter.com. “Wisconsin Reporter has been on the ground floor of this story reporting from the Capitol since the budget battle began. This poll reiterates the opinions and comments that the reporting team at Wisconsin Reporter are hearing while capturing the breaking news from Madison.”
The poll also showed that given the choice to reduce teacher pensions and salaries or cut sports and extra-curricular programs for students, 44% would reduce the pensions and only 34% would cut sports and extra-curricular programs. Full poll details are listed below.
WisconsinReporter.com is a new statehouse news organization covering all of the legislative action in Wisconsin. It is a product of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a national nonprofit journalism organization. As this issue continues to develop, Wisconsin Reporter will be on the scene reporting the news as it breaks. For more information on Wisconsin Reporter including full analysis of this poll visit WisconsinReporter.com.
WisconsinSurvey of 500 Likely Voters
Conducted February 21, 2011
1* Do you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable opinion of the budget repair bill proposed by Gov. Scott Walker?
39% Very favorable
11% Somewhat favorable
14% Somewhat unfavorable
36% Very unfavorable
0% Not sure
2* Do you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable impression of the union workers and their supporters demonstrating at the Wisconsin Capitol?
36% Very favorable
13% Somewhat favorable
18% Somewhat unfavorable
30% Very unfavorable
3% Not sure
3* Next, Wisconsin faces an estimated budget deficit of about $3.6 billion over the next two years … Which approach would you choose for dealing with the state’s budget shortfall … rely entirely on spending cuts with no tax increases … rely mainly on spending cuts, with some tax increases … have an even balance of spending cuts and tax increases … rely mainly on tax increases, with some spending cuts … or rely entirely on tax increases, with no spending cuts?
30% Rely entirely on spending cuts with no tax increases
27% Rely mainly on spending cuts, with some tax increases
33% Have an even balance of spending cuts and tax increases
7% Rely mainly on tax increases, with some spending cuts
2% Rely entirely on tax increases, with no spending cuts
1% Not sure
4* Governor Walker is asking unions to pay 5.8% of their salary toward the cost of their pensions plans and double their contributions for health care premiums to 12.6%. Is that fair?
7% Not sure
5* How likely is it that you would support the recall of state senators who left the state to avoid a vote on the budget?
37% Very likely
10% Somewhat likely
12% Not very likely
36% Not at all likely
5% Not sure
6* Generally speaking, are government workers in your community better compensated than private sector workers?
23% Not sure
7* Generally speaking, do government workers in your community have better benefits than private sector workers?
17% Not sure
8* Should school districts fire teachers who call in sick to protest Governor Walker?
15% Not sure
9* Should Wisconsin’s state employees and public employee unions have collective bargaining powers?
12% Not sure
10* Given these choices, which approach would you take for dealing with a school district budget shortfall … reduce teacher pensions and salaries or cut sports and extra-curricular programs for students?
44% Reduce teacher pensions and salaries
34% Cut sports and extra-curricular programs for students
22% Not sure
11* Who do you think is doing the best job at tackling spending and budgets issues — state officials such as Gov. Walker or lawmakers in Washington?
46% State officials such as Gov. Walker
33% Lawmakers in Washington
21% Not sure
12* Do you believe that President Obama should get involved in state disputes like the one in Wisconsin or focus his efforts on the federal budget battle in Washington?
27% Obama should get involved in state disputes
68% Obama should focus his efforts on the federal budget
5% Not sure
13* Is anyone in your household a member of a state public employee union?
2% Not sure
14* In the November 2010 election for Governor, did you vote for Tom Barrett or Scott Walker?
8% Some other candidate
1% Not sure
15* Should Wisconsin residents be allowed to carry a concealed weapon?
10% Not sure
16* Should Wisconsin residents be required to present a photo ID in order to vote?
6% Not sure
NOTE: Margin of Sampling Error, +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. The telephone survey of 500 Likely Voters was conducted by Pulse Opinion Research on February 21, 2011. Pulse Opinion Research, LLC is an independent public opinion research firm using automated polling methodology and procedures licensed from Rasmussen Reports, LLC.