A new poll, commissioned by the Bush Foundation, found that two thirds of those surveyed are not happy with the budget agreement that ended a 21 day state government shutdown. The poll also found that a majority of those polled think the state is headed in the wrong direction.
Governor Dayton and the GOP-controlled Legislature shut down state government for three weeks because they were at odds over the best way to balance the state's two year budget. The two sides agreed to cut spending, borrow against future tobacco payments and delay payments to K12 schools to erase the deficit. The poll found that a majority of Minnesotans weren't happy with that deal.
"The poll made it very clear that people were unhappy about any sort of shift or borrowing against the future," The Bush Foundation's C. Scott Cooper said. "People much preferred to deal with the problem now, face it head on and tackle it."
Cooper, with the Bush Foundation, says the polling is consistent with the results the group gathered from a number of focus groups conducted by the Bush Foundation on the state budget. He said they held town hall meetings in Grand Rapids, Rochester and Bloomington to gauge how the state's budget problems should be addressed.
The poll also found that 54 percent of those surveyed think a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases are needed if the state faces another deficit. At the same time, 80 percent of those polled think making government services more efficient should be "the most central piece" or "a major part" of the solution.
The findings are consistent with other polling that shows the public wants to see lawmakers rein in government spending but balk when the focus of those cuts turns to popular and expensive programs. Cooper said the results from the focus groups were more nuanced. For example, he said some were willing to make sacrifices in order to see things get better.
"People want the reform and they're willing to pay the price in the short-term if they think we can get the reforms in the long-term," Cooper said.
The most striking result from the poll is the dissatisfaction that the general public has about their quality of life. 40 percent of those polled said they believed the quality of their lives was getting worse. Nicole Martin Rogers, a researcher with polling group Wilder Research, said that was a 17 percentage point increase from a similar poll done in December.
Both Governor Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are working to show that they understand the frustration. Dayton is scheduled to launch a statewide jobs tour to discuss ways to improve the state's economy. Republicans in the Minnesota House are scheduled to hold a news conference on Thursday morning to discuss what they have characterized as "the start of the "Reform 2.0" agenda for the 2012 legislative session."
The two sides disagree on the best way to tackle some of the key issues facing the state.
Dayton has been pushing for a mix of spending cuts and income tax increases on Minnesota's top earners to solve the state's budget problems over the long-term. Republicans have rejected tax hikes of any kind and say the focus needs to be on cutting government spending.
The poll was conducted between August 1 and August 4. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
Here's the poll.
Here's the report from The Bush Foundation.