The Policy Shop: The mismatch between Illinois voter demands and lawmaker behavior
This edition of The Policy Shop comes to you from Executive Vice President Amy Korte.
It’s been several months since headlines featured troubling stories about bank failures at the likes of SVB. It spooked a lot of us, because big shocks raise the odds of a recession.
Nonetheless, the U.S. economy is not clear of the danger. Concerns about stubborn inflation and a potential recession remain.
New polling shows 69% of Illinoisans are worried about a recession in the next year.
Short of possessing a crystal ball, there’s no way of knowing how the year will shake out. On one hand, inflation is coming down – now at 3% – and job growth is slowing, but still positive. On the other hand, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated further rate hikes are still expected later this month, layoffs are up in 2023 and job openings are down. In other words, forward-looking indicators still give cause for concern even if job and inflation reports look better right now.
Polling matters. Do polls get things wrong? Sure. But polling is one of the most helpful tools to check the public’s pulse on important issues, like recession fears, for example.
Another example: What people care about most when it comes to the issues.
Illinoisans care most about crime and high taxes.
We could’ve guessed those two issues would be top of mind, but we wouldn’t be sure without polling. That’s why we launched the Lincoln Poll, a quarterly survey identifying key issues in Illinois and monitoring what residents care about. Our partners at Echelon Insights are industry leaders, and we’re excited to dive deeper into the latest poll results, collected at the end of June.
And what’s more interesting is to see how results vary by location and change over time.
Concerns over high taxes grew from the first quarter to the second quarter in Chicago and Northern Illinois, for example. Concerns about crime dropped in Northern Illinois, however, while going up in every other region. In Cook County, resident concerns over state debt and spending, as well as the quality of schools and government corruption, went up, even as concern over high taxes and housing affordability went down (just wait until those Cook County property tax bills come due and we’ll see how this changes).
Get rid of gas tax hikes, grocery taxes. When asked about the grocery tax, which resumed July 1 after a one-year suspension, 70% of respondents support repealing the tax. Illinois is one of just 13 states to impose a grocery tax.
Similarly, for every Illinoisan who supported the state’s annual gas tax increase, more than three opposed it. The annual gas tax increase brought the current gas tax to among the highest in the nation.
School choice is trending. Support for school choice is on the rise in Illinois with 64% of Illinoisans supporting school choice, up from 61% in the first quarter of 2023.
Speaking of school choice, 63% of Illinoisans supported the Invest in Kids scholarship program with bipartisan appeal. This program, which supports more than 9,600 low-income students with thousands more on the waitlist, is set to expire at the end of 2023, unless lawmakers renew it.
The next Lincoln Poll will come out in the third quarter. We’ll see how Illinoisans’ attitudes change – or stay the same – then.