Fund state services rather than tax cuts, Iowans tell pollsters

The Iowa State House cupola on Thur. Mar 11, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
The Iowa State House cupola on Thur. Mar 11, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — A majority of Iowa voters would prefer fully funded public services such education and water quality to a tax cut, and four out of five believe the state’s minimum wage should be increased.

That’s according to a poll published Monday by the progressive advocacy group Progress Iowa. The survey was conducted last week by Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning national firm.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 664 Iowa registered voters Jan. 3 and Jan. 4 using automated phone calls. The poll has a margin for error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. Of the respondents, 35 percent identified as Republicans, 33 percent as having no party allegiances, and 32 percent as Democrats.

In the poll, 58 percent of Iowa voters said they would prefer their tax dollars be used to adequately fund public services such as education, infrastructure and clean water, while 35 percent said they would prefer a decrease in their tax bill by “a few hundred dollars each year.”

The federal government in December passed tax overhaul that in 2018 will result in an average federal tax reduction of $930 for middle-class workers, according to analysis from the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Iowa lawmakers say they want to provide state-level tax relief as well during the 2018 legislative session.

“I hope they see these (poll) results and they see people want an investment in public services, even at the expense of their own bottom line,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa.

When given four options for what they think should be Iowa’s minimum wage, only 16 percent of poll respondents said it should remain at $7.25 per hour.

Twenty-eight percent said Iowa’s minimum wage should be raised to $9 per hour, 32 percent said $12 per hour, and 20 percent said $15 per hour.

Republican leaders, who control the lawmaking process in the Iowa Legislature, said recently that increasing the state’s minimum wage is not one of their priorities, that their focus is on providing more high-paying jobs for Iowa workers.

Three in five Iowa voters said taxpayer funds should support public schools only, not private schools and home-schooled students, according to the survey. Sixty-two percent said tax dollars should be spent to fund public schools only; 30 percent said tax dollars also should go toward private-school and home-schooled students.

The poll also showed last year’s changes to the state’s collective bargaining system for public employee unions were not popular. More than three in five voters said the state should be required to negotiate with public employees over workplace benefits and safety policies; 21 percent said there should not be such a requirement.

The controversial, Republican-led changes in 2017 significantly reduced the benefits that public employee unions can collectively bargain.

The Public Policy Polling Poll also found Gov. Kim Reynolds’ approval rating under water. Thirty-nine percent approve and 47 percent disapprove of Reynolds’ job performance, according to the poll.

That is a stark difference to a recent Iowa Poll, which in December found 51 percent of Iowans approve of Reynolds’ job performance and 30 percent disapprove.

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