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48% of Wisconsin Voters Want Public Employee Pension Increases Approved by Voters

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A plurality of Wisconsin voters think voters should have the right to approve or reject new pension plans agreed to by government officials and union members if they'll lead to increased government spending. They are evenly divided as to whether approval should be required for public employee pay raises that push spending higher.

If public employee unions and elected state officials agree to a union contract with increased pension benefits that would lead to higher state government spending, 48% of Likely Wisconsin Voters think that contract should require voter approval before it can be implemented. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 39% disagree, and 14% are not sure.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

When the topic moves away from pension benefits, there is less support for requiring voter approval of union contracts with a pay raise that would increase state government spending. On that type of contract, 40% believe voter approval should be required, while 41% disagree and 19% are undecided.

This difference may be partially explained by national polling showing that 71% of voters believe government employees receive better pension benefits than private sector workers.  But only 36% think the average public employee in their state earns more than the average private sector worker.

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The survey of 500 Likely Voters in Wisconsin was conducted on March 7, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 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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