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21% Support Paying Higher Taxes To Ensure All Pension Benefits for State Workers

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Though most Americans nationwide don’t believe their state will have to raise taxes on the middle class to pay all promised pension benefits to state workers, most would rather see a reduction in those benefits than pay higher taxes.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows, when given the choice, 56% would rather reduce promised benefits for public employees than pay higher taxes to ensure that all promised benefits are paid. Twenty-one percent (21%) would rather pay higher taxes than reduce public employee benefits. Another 23% aren’t sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Most recently, California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown proposed a pension reform plan that will raise the retirement age for state workers, among other things.

A sizable number of adults (37%) think their state will have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay all promised pension benefits. However, 25% do not think that’s the case and another 38% are not sure.

Overall, half of Americans (50%) believe it is at least somewhat likely that their states will be able to pay the pension benefits promised to state workers, but just 15% see this as Very Likely. Only 28% do not think it’s likely their state can pay all promised benefits while 23% are undecided.

Though three out of four Americans nationwide acknowledge that their state is in a budget crisis, they are evenly divided when it comes to immediately cutting the salaries of state workers. 

Earlier polling found strong support for cutting the federal payroll by 10% over ten years.  That approach could be accomplished by a combination of attrition and modest pay cuts.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on October 27-28, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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