When it comes to dealing with the gaping budget deficits plaguing many states, public opinion presents the same dilemma for governors and lawmakers as it does for policymakers in Washington
: while everyone wants to see deficits cut, few of the specific ways to achieve that result command majority support.
In a Washington Post/ABC News poll
conducted March 10-13, only two of 12 ways of dealing with deficits were supported by a majority of those surveyed -- freezing wages for state employees (55 percent) and reducing their pension benefits (51 percent).
But between 61 percent and 89 percent opposed measures that included reducing spending on roads, increasing state income taxes, cutting Medicaid funding, closing state parks, reducing public school aid, laying off public school teachers, or laying off police and firemen.
A Gallup poll
, conducted March 3-6, produced similar results when it asked about seven ways to deal with state deficits, (although the list differed somewhat from the Post/ABC News options).
More than 6 of 10 of those surveyed supported the general idea of reducing or eliminating certain state programs and reducing the number of workers on the state payroll. But none of the other five choices had a majority.
A slight plurality (49 percent) backed measures to limit that bargaining power of state employee unions. Forty-five percent were opposed, with 6 percent undecided.
But majorities ranging from 54 percent to 66 percent opposed reducing current state worker pay and benefits, raising state taxes on businesses, raising state income or sales taxes and borrowing more money by issuing bonds.
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