Carolina Issues Poll

Carolina Issues Poll – April 2011

NC Policy Watch is happy to announce the release of the April 2011 edition of its Carolina Issues Poll. Each month, the staff of NC Policy Watch develops a series of questions on timely issues impacting state policy debates that are then vetted and posed to registered voters by the nationally recognized, Raleigh-based polling firm Public Policy Polling.

This month’s poll quizzed nearly 800 voters on April 19 and 20 regarding a wide variety of current issues, including:

* The stalemate between the Governor and the General Assembly over the extension of unemployment benefits,
* Proposed budget cuts under consideration in the legislature,
* The state’s acceptance of federal high speed rail dollars,
* Whether community colleges should be required to help student access federal student loans,
* A proposal to raise interest rates on small consumer loans, and
* The issue of reintegrating ex-criminal offender into society.

    Here are some of the results:

    In general, voters are very supportive of extending unemployment insurance benefits to jobless North Carolina workers who have been laid off but continue to seek work and oppose efforts of Republican leaders to tie the extension to future state budget cuts.

    Q1 Do you support or oppose extending unemployment benefits for another 20 weeks to North Carolinians who have been laid off, provided they continue seeking work?

    Support ………………………………………………….. 65%

    Oppose ………………………………………………….. 32%

    Not sure …………………………………………………. 3%

    Q2 Last week, leaders in the General Assembly advanced a bill to extend unemployment benefits, but attached a condition that would also require the Governor to agree to cut the overall state budget by 13% in 2012. Do you think lawmakers should have had an opportunity to vote on the unemployment extension by itself?

    Yes………………………………………………………… 66%

    No …………………………………………………………. 22%

    Not sure …………………………………………………. 12%

    Q3 Over the weekend, the Governor vetoed the bill that combined the unemployment extension with the 2012 budget cuts and asked lawmakers to send her a bill that deals only with the unemployment issue. Do you agree with the Governor’s decision to keep the matters separate?

    Yes………………………………………………………… 65%

    No …………………………………………………………. 25%

    Not sure …………………………………………………. 10%

     

    Voters also remain very skeptical of proposed budget cuts under consideration at the General Assembly and, when given the choice, expressed a preference for leaving taxes at current rates rather than reducing core services.

    Q4 The current budget proposal from legislative leaders would cut taxes from their current levels and includes unprecedented cuts to a number of public services. I’m going to read you a list of specific cuts that have been proposed and ask you to compare them to the option of leaving taxes at current levels: Given the choices of cutting taxes and eliminating 8,200 teachers’ assistants positions in grades two and three or leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the teachers’ assistants, which would you prefer?

    Prefer cutting taxes and eliminating 8,200 teachers’ assistants positions in grades 2 and 3 …………………………………………………………….29%

    Prefer leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the teachers’ assistants…………………66%

    Not sure …………………………………………………. 4%

    Q5 Given the choices of cutting taxes and eliminating 3,200 jobs in the university system or leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the jobs in the university system, which would you prefer?

    Prefer cutting taxes and eliminating 3,200 jobs in the university system ………………………38%

    Prefer leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the jobs in the university system……..57%

    Not sure …………………………………………………. 5%

    Q6 Given the choices of cutting taxes and cutting the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources by 22% or leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the Department intact, which would you prefer?

    Prefer cutting taxes and cutting the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources by 22%……………………………………46%

    Prefer leaving taxes at current levels and keeping the department intact…………………….48%

    Not sure …………………………………………………. 6%

     

    On the matter of high-speed rail, a plurality of voters prefers to accept federal dollars rather than turn them down.

    Q7 Some state legislators want North Carolina to turn down more than $400 million in federal funds to build high-speed rail service in the state: do you agree with them that North Carolina should reject the money, or do you think that North Carolina should accept the money from the federal government?

    NC should reject $400 million in federal funds for high speed rail service ……………………….43%

    NC should accept the money…………………….. 47%

    Not sure …………………………………………………. 9%


    On another matter involving federal dollars, voters strongly support the position taken in Governor Perdue’s veto of a bill that would repeal a law that requires all community colleges in the state to help their students access low-cost federal loans.

    Q8 Do you think all community college students should have access to low cost federal student loans or should individual community colleges be allowed to refuse to offer such loans?

    All community college students should have access to low cost federal student loans…….61%

    Individual community colleges should be allowed to refuse to offer federal loans ………..30%

    Not sure …………………………………………………. 9%

     

    Perhaps the strongest and clearest result came on the question of consumer lending legislation, in which a vast majority of voters opposed the idea of raising interest rates.

    Q9 North Carolina law currently limits the annual interest rate on consumer loans offered by loan companies to around 54%. The companies say they need higher rates to loan to people with poor credit. Do you think lawmakers should approve a bill requested by the companies to allow them to charge an annual interest rate of around 90%?

    Lawmakers should raise permissible rates…………7%

    Rates should not be raised…………………………….. 84%

    Not sure ………………………………………………………. 9%


    Finally, on another matter of great interest in the current policy environment in which lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce recidivism in the criminal justice system, voters expressed support for government efforts to eliminate roadblocks to employment for ex-criminal offenders seeking a fresh start in life.

    Q10 Do you think that state and local governments should remove roadblocks to employment for ex-criminal offenders who have completed their sentence and are seeking a fresh start in life?

    Lawmakers should remove roadblocks……….. 46%

    The y should not remove roadblocks …………… 32%

    Not sure …………………………………………………. 21%


    To read the entire poll, as well as the crosstabs, click here.