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Voters divided on how to fix Illinois budget deficit, poll finds

Illinois+Gov.+Bruce+Rauner+speaks+at+the+Illinois+State+Fair+on+Aug.+17%2C+2016%2C+in+Springfield.+%28Anthony+Souffle%2FChicago+Tribune%2FTNS%29
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 17, 2016, in Springfield. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 17, 2016, in Springfield. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 17, 2016, in Springfield. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Much like Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly, Illinois voters remain divided over how to fix the state’s budget problems, according to a new Paul Simon Institute poll.

The survey of 1,000 registered voters, conducted Sept. 27 through Oct. 2, found 44 percent of respondents said they favor budget cuts, 12 percent prefer tax increases and 33 percent want a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts.

Voters also were asked whether the state’s budget impasse has personally affected their lives, to which 62 percent said the stalemate hasn’t, compared to 34 percent who said they were affected.

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Linda Baker, a professor at SIU’s Simon Institute, said the findings show Illinoisans are aware that the budget crisis “is no longer an abstract question,” but instead a growing problem that is having a negative effect on the state’s ability to attract and retain both business and residents.

“One hopeful finding is the increased percentage of Illinoisans who see the solution as a mix of both budget cuts and increasing revenues,” Baker said. “Hopefully this can help spur policymakers on both sides of the aisle to consider a compromise that includes solutions offered by both parties.”

Among the voters who said the budget impasse was personally affecting their lives, 18 percent cited the gridlock in Springfield as the reason for losing or threatening their job. Another 15 percent perceived the stalemate to be the cause of cuts to social services, while 14 percent blamed it on cuts to K-12 education funding.

“I’m surprised more people aren’t feeling affected by this deadlock in Springfield. I thought the numbers of people impacted would be increasing as it wore on but it’s also true many people aren’t impacted by changes in government services,” said David Yepsen, director of the institute.

The margin of error for the entire sample of 1,000 voters is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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