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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Poll: ‘Cut spending’ beats ‘Raise taxes’

A new survey suggests Washington voters would rather the Legislature cut spending than raise taxes, the folks at Moore Information say.

Wow. Bet you didn't see that coming. (Next week, Moore will poll people on whether they'd rather have rain or sunshine tomorrow.)

As with most polls, it's not just the overall results that matter, but what questions were asked, and how strongly people feel about them. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

In one question, voters surveyed were asked what they thought the most important thing was for balancing the state budget.

Reduce spending, even if some crucial programs are cut?
Increase taxes, even if it is hard on middle class families?

Overall, 61 percent went with reduce spending, while 26 percent went with increase taxes. Now picky people might argue that more people  might think they'd be affected by taxes that are "hard on middle class families" than by cuts in "some crucial programs" because they probably think of themselves as middle class than a user of "some crucial programs". But what's interesting is that those strongly for reduced spending were 49 percent of the sample and those strongly for increased taxes were 17 percent of the sample.

Moore then gave respondents two options for how to deal with the budget problems?

Option A:  Make permanent the 2010 temporary Business and Occupation and beer taxes, and close existing tax loopholes in order to increase funding for most state services and increase education funding by $1.3 billion.

Option B:  Balance the budget with no new taxes while maintaining current funding levels for most state services and increase education funding by $1 billion.

Option A is more or less the point where House Democrats and Gov. Jay Inslee started months ago, but the beer tax has essentially been scrapped by House Ds in the face of stout opposition from brewers and beer drinkers. Option B is the way the predominantly Republican Senate majority describes its budget, although Democrats argue that many state services would actually change for the worse because "current funding levels" don't keep pace with increasing demand.

Given those two choices, however, which one would you expect to come out on top.

Option B, of course. It outpolled A 51 percent to 36 percent.

Other "shocking" results in the Moore survey: 89 percent agree to "cutting wasteful spending and moving toward a more lean and efficient government"; while 71 percent agree "now is the wrong time to raise taxes on working families and struggling businesses."

Not clear how many think that there is a right time to raise taxes on working families and struggling businesses.

The Portland based polling firm does a lot of polling for candidates and political organizations, predominantly for one political party. Spin Control will let you guess which one.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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