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Only 22% Support Giving States $35 Billion to Prevent Teacher, First Responder Layoffs

President Obama is pushing Congress to pass his plan to give $35 billion to state and local governments to prevent layoffs of teachers and first responders such as firemen, policemen and rescue squad workers. But most Americans think state and local governments should tighten their financial belts instead.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 22% of Americans think the federal government should give states and localities $35 billion to prevent such layoffs. Nearly three times as many adults (64%) believe that the best way for state and local governments to avoid these layoffs is to cut back on other spending. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Interestingly, there’s virtually no difference of opinion on this question between those who live in states with a budget crisis and those who do not.

Eighty-two percent (82%) of Republicans and 59% of those not affiliated with either of the major political parties feel states and localities should cut back in other areas to protect the jobs of teachers and first responders. Even most of those in the president’s party aren’t convinced by his plan: Democrats think states and localities should cut back rather than receive the $35 billion in federal money - by a 50% to 35% margin.

After Republicans in Congress refused to go along with the $447 billion jobs plan the president proposed in early September, he broke out the teacher/first responder proposal for separate consideration. The initial response to the president’s overall jobs plan was mixed: 38% of Likely Voters favored it, 36% opposed, and 26% weren’t sure.  Even at that time, though, most voters felt reduced government regulation is more likely to create jobs than more government spending.

While a number of states continue to face major budget problems, most Americans (53%) also remain opposed to federal government bailouts for them. Only 29% favor bailout funding for states with serious financial problems. Nineteen percent (19%) are undecided. This marks a lessening of opposition to state bailouts from July 2009 when 62% were against them. 

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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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