Survey shows La. residents increase support for taxes when attached to state infrastructure

Survey shows La. residents increase support for taxes when attached to state infrastructure

POSTED: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 6:00am

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 6:04am

Louisiana citizens are more likely to support taxes when the revenue generated goes to state infrastructure, according to results from the Louisiana Survey, which is conducted on an annual basis by LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, or PPRL, and supported by the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs.

“While the common perception is that there will never be public support for a tax increase, this is not always true. Given the right circumstances, and the right tax, Louisiana residents will favor certain tax increases,” said Michael Climek, PPRL operations manager. “‘Sin’ taxes and increased taxes on high earners achieve broad support with most Louisiana residents. Furthermore, an increase in tax on gasoline, arguably the most hot-button tax right now, would earn slight majority support if revenue was dedicated solely to improving Louisiana infrastructure. This shows that law makers do not need to avoid tax increases altogether. They just need to find the right tax increase and the right justification.”

Survey findings show that while only 9 percent of Louisiana residents support a gasoline tax, the support number jumps to 54 percent when it’s specified that revenue generated by the tax would be dedicated to infrastructure improvement such as roads or bridges.

To understand residents’ support for specific tax increases, the survey asked respondents about a number of potential tax proposals, ranging from sin taxes to a proposed one-cent sales tax increase. Results showed that:

• 75 percent of respondents support increased taxes on casino gaming,
• 67 percent support increased taxes on alcohol and
• 63 percent support increased taxes on cigarettes.

Interestingly, support for sin taxes dropped slightly from 2011 levels, when 85 percent of respondents supported taxes on gaming, 76 supported tax increases on alcohol and 73 percent supported taxes on cigarettes.

No other tax increased presented to those surveyed received majority support, including hotel taxes on out-of-state tourists, taxes on tickets to sporting events and reducing or eliminating the homestead exemption.

Since the repeal of the Stelly Plan in 2008, Louisianans concerns that income and state tax rates were too high have remained relatively flat. Specific results showed that:
• Respondents saying that state sales taxes are too high declined significantly since 2011, from 42 to 35 percent;
• 30 percent of respondents believe that state income taxes are too high, a slight increase from 28 percent last year.

When asked about increasing personal income taxes based on earnings, Louisiana residents were in favor of higher taxes on higher earners. Seventy-six percent of residents favor raising taxes on individuals earning more than $500,000 annually, and 64 percent of residents favor raising taxes on those earning more than $250,000 annually. As a point of contrast, only 36 percent of residents favor raising taxes on those earning more than $50,000 annually.

The annual Louisiana Survey, sponsored by LSU’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, was created to serve as a barometer of statewide public opinion. The 2012 Louisiana Survey results will be broken out into several sections in order to best disseminate its findings, and will be released throughout March and April 2012.

The overall survey includes 731 randomly selected respondents, including 517 landline telephone respondents and 214 cell phone respondents. The survey was conducted from Feb. 7 to Feb. 29 and has margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points. Final results are weighted to reflect the most current population estimates available. A detailed copy of the results described in this release and a discussion of the methodology can be obtained clicking here.
 

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