11/04/04 Contact: Jim Seroka, 334/844-4781 (jseroka@auburn.edu)
Deedie Dowdle, 334/844-9999 (dowdldk@auburn.edu)


AUBURN -- As the Legislature enters special session to address growing state expenses, a new poll shows a majority of Alabamians oppose continued budget cuts to key public services, personnel and state employee benefits.

These are among the findings of the fall 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, more than two-thirds oppose reductions in state expenditures for children services, senior citizen centers and senior health care. Eighty-eight percent of those polled oppose layoffs of school teachers and 76 percent oppose freezes on hiring state troopers.

This significant opposition to budget cuts is underscored by the public’s division on whether previous budget cuts had been effective, and an overall low level of taxpayer confidence in the government’s budget management.

The findings indicate a tough special session as Gov. Bob Riley and the Legislature seek to reduce state expenses.

“It will be a difficult sell for the Governor and legislative leadership,” said Ask Alabama poll director, Jim Seroka. “Alabamians strongly believe that there is considerable waste and mismanagement in the state government, but that waste does not occur in those services that directly impact children, seniors and public safety.”

Overall, Alabamians displayed little confidence in the state’s management of taxpayers’ money. Only 16 percent of those surveyed believe the State was doing an excellent to good job of budget management.

Other findings of the Ask Alabama poll on state expenditure cuts include:

* By a margin of 2 to 1, the public opposes reducing benefits for state employees.

* Forty-six percent agreed while 43 percent disagreed that past budget cuts had created a more efficient government.

* The only cuts which a majority (53 percent) of Alabamians would support would be a general budget reduction of at least 10 percent for all state agencies.

Complete results of the Ask Alabama poll on state expenditures 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. Each survey will include questions on three distinct topics and poll results will be released monthly.

(Contributed by Jim Seroka.)