February 06, 2013

Illinois voters oppose pension cuts

A new survey shows Illinoisans are solidly on the side of public workers in the ongoing debate over pensions.

According to a survey released Feb. 5 by Public Policy Polling (PPP),60 percent of Illinois voters oppose the governor’s proposal to cut pension cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).

Illinois voters put the blame for the state’s pension funding crisis right where it belongs – with politicians in Springfield. By a 64-27 percent margin, voters say most of the blame for Illinois’ $98 billion pension shortfall lies with politicians skipping payments. This position won support across party lines, with backing from 71 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of independents.

The We Are One Illinois union coalition plan for overhauling pensions – which would close tax loopholes favoring the rich and corporations while asking public workers to pay 2 percent more from their paychecks – also has strong public support, with 59 percent of voters backing the proposal.

By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, Illinois voters also believe in the fundamental idea that pensions are a promise that cannot be broken. They reject the idea that the state can’t afford to pay benefits to retired workers.

Members of the General Assembly also have something to gain by supporting a balanced pension plan like the We Are One proposal. The survey found that 44 percent of voters would be less likely to support a politician who cut pension benefits, while only 29 percent would be more likely.

PPP is one of the nation’s most accurate polling firms – its surveys of the 2012 presidential election were found to be the most accurate of all pollsters. The survey of 500 Illinois voters was conducted Feb. 1-3 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

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