Texans like the idea of budget cuts but hate the specifics, proving that we’re just like everybody else.
By a margin of more than 2 to 1, Texas voters believe that lawmakers should solve the state’s massive shortfall by cutting the budget, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, but their enthusiasm dissipates when asked if they support specific cuts.
“We really want to slash the budget, but not anything in it,” says pollster Daron Shaw, a professor of government at UT.
On a sliding scale of 0-10, poll respondents were asked whether they would prefer to balance the state’s next budget through budget cuts, by raising revenues, or something in between. Only 4 percent proposed doing it all with new revenue, while 17 percent would do it all with budget cuts. Another 22 percent landed right in the middle. But the rest leaned more toward cuts than toward raising new money for the state government.
Still, when asked specifically what should be cut, voters were more divided. Given a list of things that could be cut to balance the budget and asked to check each that they’d consider, the voters were protective of state programs, and overwhelmingly so. They oppose cuts to public education, 82 percent; pre-kindergarten, 62 percent; state grants to college students, 73 percent; state contributions to teacher and state employee retirement programs, 69 percent; the Children’s Health Insurance Program, 87 percent; to state environmental regulation that could be picked up by the federal government, 65 percent; cuts to Medicaid providers like doctors and hospitals, 86 percent; state funding for nursing home care, 90 percent; prisons for adults or for juveniles, both 67 percent; new highway construction, 63 percent; border security, 85 percent; or for closing four community colleges, 77 percent.
Many of the items on that list are among the prime cuts made in proposed budgets from the House, the Senate and the governor.
Emphasis mine – I highlighted that one bit since I’ve been talking so much about it. Frankly, I think Nick Anderson summed up the general attitude about as well as anyone can. My way of looking at this is that this should all be a very clear preview of the 2012 and 2014 elections. If it’s not, or if it doesn’t have the effect that it should, that’s when you can write the Texas Democratic Party’s obituary. Texas Vox has more.