Poll: Texans Want Balanced Budget, But Have Untouchable Items

Texans are enthusiastic about balancing the state budget, but they have items they want to be untouchable. And a poll shows respondents don't want a state income tax or increased sales taxes to be part of the solution. Ed Mayberry reports.

The UT/Texas Tribune poll indicates only four percent support balancing the budget with increased revenues. Seventeen percent would do it all with budget cuts. University of Texas government professor Daron Shaw conducted the poll.

"Unfortunately for the Texas legislature, everything that they might take a meat cleaver to has fairly significant support. No one has a real strong sense of what should be cut. I guess the metaphor might be the low-hanging fruit is gone."

When asked specifically what should be cut, voters are divided.

"It's pretty clear the fight is going to be how to package this. Is this going to be packaged as 'well, we cut spending and tried to bring the budget into balance' or is it going to be packaged as 'you cut K through 12 education' or 'you cut aid to high ed in Texas.' And that's where I think there's going to be a real fight against deficit hawks and defenders here."

The state will have $9.4 billion available in its Rainy Day Fund, and 55 percent would spend some, but not all of it, to avoid budget cuts.

"Some say that it's mainly meant for emergencies like hurricanes and that sort of thing and ought not to be used to fund a deficit reduction. But it's not unpopular."

So what do respondents say they'd support?

"Excise taxes — liquor, alcohol. Fairly significant support increasing gaming and gambling. You know, we had laid out a whole raft of options, one of which was to legalize marijuana and regulate and tax it. And that actually had more support than a statewide income tax."

Shaw says 2010 is still alive and well — a mentality remains that we've overspent and over borrowed and something needs to be done.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...