More Than Seven in Ten Likely Michigan Voters Prefer Spending Reductions to Tax Increases, According to Survey

Spending reductions preferred across every major demographic group; in addition, 65 percent favor only reducing spending to only increasing taxes

For Immediate Release
Friday, Sept. 28, 2007

Contact: Michael D. LaFaive
Director, Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative

MIDLAND — With the state of Michigan hours away from a possible government shutdown, a new survey indicates that when likely voters are asked how they would prefer lawmakers to close the state budget gap, 71 percent say they would prefer that legislators use mostly reductions in spending rather than mostly increases in taxes. The strength of this sentiment was underscored by a second question that asked likely voters to pick between two choices to close all of the budget gap: 65 percent say they would prefer spending reductions only, while just 22 percent say they would prefer tax increases only. The poll of 599 likely voters was conducted from Tuesday, Sept. 25, through Thursday, Sept. 27, by Mitchell Research and Communication Inc. for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market research institute based in Midland, Mich.

“We were a little surprised by the overwhelming strength of support for spending reductions over tax hikes,” said Michael D. LaFaive, the Mackinac Center’s director of fiscal policy. “Majorities of whites, blacks, members of union households, liberals, conservatives, independents, seniors and young people prefer spending cuts to tax increases. In fact, the same groups choose spending cuts only, rather than tax increases only, to close the entire budget gap.”

Specifically, the survey asked: “The state government’s budget year is ending, and there is a projected $1.75 billion shortfall of state money to cover state spending. As the governor and the state Legislature work to balance the budget, which would you prefer they use more of — reductions in spending or increases in taxes?” Reductions in spending were favored by 71 percent, while only 22 percent said they would prefer mostly tax increases to fill the gap. The poll also asked, “If you were given only two choices in order to end the entire budget shortfall, which would you prefer — that all of the budget gap be closed with increases in taxes, or that all of the budget gap be closed with reductions in spending?” Sixty-five percent favored spending cuts only, while 22 percent supported tax increases only.

The survey also asked what two issues from a list of four were most to blame for Michigan’s economic weakness amidst a strong national economy. A plurality of respondents (28 percent) said “state taxes and spending are too high,” with smaller percentages choosing “the state’s businesses have failed to invest in workers,” “state government has not spent enough money on attracting business investment,” or “the state’s unions have discouraged business investment.”

The complete survey wording and results can be found at The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.