11/10/04 Contact: David M. Granger, 334/844-9999 (grangdm@auburn.edu)
Deedie Dowdle, 334/844-9999 (ddowdle@auburn.edu)

‘ASK ALABAMA’ POLL: MAJORITY OF CITIZENS CONCERNED ABOUT STATE REVENUE SHORTFALLS, WOULD SUPPORT INCREASE IN SIN TAXES

AUBURN -- Amid concern about shortfalls in the state budget, a new poll shows Alabamians favor increasing so-called “sin taxes” instead of property or sales taxes.

This is among the findings of the latest Ask Alabama public opinion survey, conducted by the Center for Governmental Services at Auburn University. Ask Alabama releases monthly results of polls on topics of interest to Alabamians.

According to Ask Alabama’s October telephone survey of 1,018 Alabamians, an overwhelming 93 percent are concerned about finding a solution to the state’s continuing budget shortfalls. However, citizens firmly believe additional revenue should come from taxing tobacco and alcohol rather than wages, homes and shopping.

Two-thirds of the poll respondents support increasing the so-called sin taxes on cigarettes, beer, wine and liquor. Conversely, a high percentage opposes increasing the state income tax, property tax or sales tax.

These findings outline the challenge facing the current special session of the Alabama Legislature.

“This is a no-win situation for the elected leaders,” said Jim Seroka, Ask Alabama poll director. “If they do nothing, they will face withering criticism for failure of leadership. If they appear too eager to raise taxes, they will face the wrath of the voters. However, increasing sin taxes would be relatively easy for the electorate to accept. After all, tobacco and alcohol are considered to be products of individual choice, and not necessities.”

Increasing revenue is only part of the problem. Currently, the poll indicates that more than half of all Alabamians (57%) also believe that the tax structure is not fair to all, while only 38% believe the system is fair.

“Alabama’s revenue structure will not be on a firmer footing if the political leadership does not squarely face the issue of reforming the tax system so that it is more fair,” cautions Seroka.

Other findings of the Ask Alabama poll on state taxes and revenue include:

* Only one-third of those surveyed said Alabama taxes were too high;

* Sixty-eight percent support taxing video gambling in addition to other sin taxes; and

* Sixty-seven percent support a lottery for education.

Complete results of the Ask Alabama poll on state taxes and revenue can be found at www.askalabama.org. The poll includes a margin of error of plus or minus three percent. Ask Alabama telephone surveys on issues of interest to Alabamians are conducted quarterly.

Auburn University is a comprehensive research institution with nearly 23,000 students and 6,500 faculty and staff. Ranked among the top 50 public universities nationally, Auburn is Alabama's largest educational institution, offering more than 230 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs.
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CONTACT: Jim Seroka, 334-844-4781 or jseroka@auburn.edu.