Statewide poll: Likely Illinois voters support property tax freeze, pension reform and strengthening power of local governments

March 21, 2017

CHICAGO (March 21, 2017) – Not only do the majority of likely Illinois voters want the state to close its budget deficit by only cutting spending, but they also support major reforms that would make that possible. These are the findings of a poll of likely Illinois voters, released today by the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute.

“In early March, the Institute released poll results showing that more than half of Illinoisans say state government spends too much money and should close its budget deficit by only cutting spending – not raising taxes. Opponents of reform responded by stating that taxes are universally hated, and that voters do not support the reforms necessary to enact an all-cuts budget. These poll results prove the detractors wrong,” said John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute.

Key findings from the poll:

  • 67 percent of Illinoisans surveyed support a permanent property tax freeze that could only be broken by a local vote.
  • 78 percent of respondents said current state workers should have the option to leave the pension system and enroll in 401(k)-style retirement savings plans. The poll also found that 60 percent support a mandatory 401(k)-style plan for all new government workers.
  • 68 percent of Illinoisans surveyed also said public universities and school districts – not the state – should pay their own share of pension costs.

The poll also found that that roughly 1 in 2 likely voters support reforms related to subjects Illinois lawmakers have long considered “untouchable.” For example: 

  • 46 percent want to give local governments more power to better negotiate union contracts and wages for infrastructure projects – which could take the form of prevailing wage or collective bargaining reform.
  • 46 percent support stopping the flow of state income tax dollars to local governments if it helps end the state’s budget crisis.

The state of Illinois has been without a full year’s budget for nearly two years. Poll results indicate that voters want the next state budget to be balanced without tax increases, and to include property tax reform, pension reform and holding local governments accountable for their own costs.

The reforms mentioned in this poll are among those recommended in the Institute’s proposal to end the state budget impasse, “Budget Solutions 2018.” The Institute’s proposal offers lawmakers a roadmap to balancing the budget without raising taxes, and implementing pension reform that complies with the Illinois Constitution.

The poll was conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, and surveyed 600 likely voters from across Illinois on Feb. 28 and March 1. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed self-identified as either moderate or liberal, and 42 percent described themselves as Democrats. The poll has a 4 percent margin of error. 

The survey results are available here:


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