5/18/05 Contact: David Granger, 334/844-9999 (grangdm@auburn.edu)
Jim Seroka, 334/844-4781 (jseroka@auburn.edu)

AU POLL SHOWS ALABAMIANS UNITED IN CONCERNS BUT NOT SOLUTIONS FOR BUDGET SHORTFALLS

AUBURN – A new poll shows almost all Alabamians recognize the problem of recurring shortfalls in the state budget, but there is no consensus on what to do about it.

This finding emerged from a recent Ask Alabama public opinion survey, conducted by the Center for Governmental Services at Auburn University. Ask Alabama releases periodic results of quarterly polls on topics of interest to Alabamians.

Ninety-two percent of Alabamians surveyed said they were concerned or very concerned about the state’s fiscal funding crisis. Ask Alabama poll director Jim Seroka suggests such a uniform response should be noted by Alabama’s leadership.

“The governor and legislature must find a way to work together to resolve the State’s recurring fiscal shortfalls,” said Seroka. “If the legislature and governor do not find a compromise, they will face withering criticism for failure of leadership.”

Unfortunately, there is no similar unity for any proposed revenue solutions to the funding crisis. While 57 percent of citizens said the state tax system is unfair, 82 percent said taxes are either too high or okay at current levels. Only 15 percent feel taxes are too low. More than 64 percent oppose raising income or property taxes and even higher numbers oppose increases in sales taxes.

The only sources of revenue citizens favor increasing are the so called “sin taxes” on alcohol and cigarettes.

“As long as many Alabamians perceive the tax system to be unfair, it will be impossible to create a consensus to correct the revenue problems,” said Seroka. “The state’s political leadership must squarely face the issue of reforming the tax system to make it fairer.” However, the problem is complicated by opposing views among special interest groups. “Sadly, there has not been sufficient active and productive engagement of the business community, employee associations and other interest groups to help broker the impasse,” acknowledged Seroka.

Other findings of the Ask Alabama poll on include:

* 66 percent of Alabamians support a lottery for education; and

* 61 percent support taxation on video gaming, another form of “sin tax.”

Complete results of the Ask Alabama poll on state taxes and revenues can be found at www.askalabama.org. The poll had a sample size of 603 resident Alabamians 19 or older, and an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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