FAIRFIELD, CT – A new poll by Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy examined Connecticut residents’ reactions to local quality-of-life issues, rated Governor Ned Lamont’s performance and solicited responses about taxes, and the general cost of goods. The results depict an electorate divided by income and surprising party affiliation results, with significant concerns over the costs of living in Connecticut and mixed reviews for the governor’s performance to date.
State Senator Tony Hwang (28th District), currently serving as Legislator-in-Residence fellow at SHU Institute for Public Policy offered a legislative perspective of the poll results. “Quality-of-life issues continue to play a central role in residents’ responses to SHU’s latest Connecticut poll, with concern over the continuing fiscal burden of taxes, tolls/user fees, general and consumer goods, along with increasing energy and health insurance costs. Escalating costs and tax burden were key factors in almost half of Connecticut residents surveyed (46.9 percent) reporting they ‘disapprove’ of the way Lamont is handling his job as governor. This survey result is a rebuke of the past legislative session and the legislative majority philosophy of ‘tax and spend’ policies. I’ve always maintained that Connecticut doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. Our population has been flat while the cost of government has risen excessively. We’ve had no discipline or respect with spending hard earned taxpayer money. We now have fixed costs that virtually surpass our intake. Budgeting is all about prioritizing.”
Two issues CT residents are specifically unhappy with are tolls and taxes.
“People remain adamantly opposed to [tolls],” said Lesley DeNardis, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy at Sacred Heart University and the poll’s director.
Nearly 58% of all residents and 44% of Democrats surveyed said they disapproved of how Lamont is handling tolls.
The only issue more controversial than tolls was taxes, with 66% of respondents disapproving Lamont’s handling of the issue.
“The enactment of certain sales taxes impacted both [Lamont’s] approval ratings and quality of life,” DeNardis said. “I think it’s valid to draw a correlation, particularly regarding the Oct. 1 taxes.”
More than 60% of residents polled said state tax increases make it difficult to maintain their current standard of living. Fifty-one percent cited general price increases, while 50% said high taxes overall.
The majority of Connecticut residents surveyed (59.4 percent) reported their quality of life in the state as either “excellent” (16.4 percent) or “good” (43 percent), which remains consistent with the 60.4 percent who reported the same in May of 2019. However, in contrast, a higher rate of September 2019 respondents expressed belief that the quality of life in Connecticut is “declining” (27.8 percent), compared to the rate of those who expressed belief that the quality of life is “improving” (14.9 percent).
Expressing longer-term concern, more than half of residents surveyed (58.4 percent) reported it is “very difficult” (19.3 percent) or “somewhat difficult” (39.1 percent) to maintain their standard of living. The top-reported reasons for these challenges included “tax increase – state” (61.1 percent); “price increase – general goods” (50.9 percent); and 50 percent said “increase/high taxes overall.” The perception among a majority of residents that Connecticut is a difficult state to maintain their standard of living is not surprising given the recent sales tax increases that went into effect on October 1 for a host of consumer items. The other items most often cited as expense-related factors include electrical/gas/oil (44 percent), health insurance premiums and co-payments/deductibles (27.2 percent) and low-paying jobs (27.2 percent).
A PDF file of complete SHU Institute for Public Policy polling results is available for review and download at www.sacredheart.edu/pollresults.
State Senator Tony Hwang represents the 28th Connecticut General Assembly Senate 28th District, representing Fairfield, Easton, Newtown/Sandy Hook and portions of Westport and Weston. Senator Hwan is currently a Legislator-in-Residence at Sacred Heart University interacting and sharing legislative insight and lecturing SHU students on Public Policy and Legislative Process. Hwang serves as the minority committee leaders on the Public Safety and Security; Housing and Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committees and member of the Transportation
Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy, which was established in 2017 in the College of Arts and Sciences, is aligned with the University’s MPA program. In addition to hosting state-wide polls, the institute conducts public policy research, hosts public forums and workshops and serves as a public-policy learning incubator for students.
GreatBlue Research conducted the 34-question Connecticut-specific scientific survey on behalf of the SHU Institute for Public Policy, interviewing 1,000 residents either by phone or electronically. Statistically, this sampling represents a margin for error of +/-3.02 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.