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Poll: Most Arizonans support sales tax increase to help balance budget

Most Arizonans support Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposal for a temporary sales tax increaseto help address the state’s budget deficit, according to a Cronkite/Eight Poll released April 28.

Sixty percent of those surveyed said they would support the temporary tax increase, while 35 percent said they would oppose it. Five percent had no opinion.

The proposal from Brewer, a Republican, hasn’t received support from GOP leaders in the Legislature. They put forward a budget plan this week that aims to close the $3 billion budget deficit for the fiscal year beginning in July without raising taxes.

Asked how much confidence they have that Brewer is making the right decisions to pull Arizona out of the economic crisis, 7 percent said they had a great deal of confidence and 40 percent said they had some confidence. Thirty-four percent said they didn’t have much confidence, and 19 percent had no opinion.

“I think this shows that people may not have support for Brewer, but they do support this particular idea,” said Tara Blanc, the poll’s associate director.

Meanwhile, the poll suggests that Brewer and her policies aren’t well known to many Arizonans. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they had no opinion of her performance as governor since she took over when Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano resigned to become U.S. homeland security secretary.

“This tells me that Republicans need to step forward and provide some strong positive leadership in Arizona to move things forward,” said Bruce Merrill, a retired Arizona State University professor who directs the poll.

The governor’s press office and spokeswomen for GOP leaders in the state House and Senate didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comment on the poll.

Arizonans appear to have more confidence in President Barack Obama’s plan to get out of the current economic crisis, according to the poll. Twenty-seven percent had a great deal of confidence in Obama’s plan and 33 percent had some confidence, while 37 percent didn’t have much confidence. Three percent had no opinion.

Most respondents said the deep recession has hurt them, with 28 percent saying it has affected them a great deal and 48 percent saying it has affected them somewhat. Twenty-eight percent said they haven’t been affected much.

“I think this shows when the real estate bubble burst, it really hurt Arizona in a big way,” Merrill said. “Now a lot of people owe more on their homes than what they are worth.”

The poll, conducted April 23 to April 26 by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Eight-KAET-TV, involved 390 registered Arizona voters. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The Cronkite School operates the Cronkite News Service.

The poll also found that:

  • Forty-eight percent of respondents think the way Obama has conducted foreign affairs has improved the image of the United States abroad, while 27 percent said his actions have worsened that the United States’ image abroad. Nineteen percent said Obama has made little difference in the area.
  • Sixty-nine percent of respondents listed education as the top area they don’t want to see cut in the state budget. Public safety was a distant second at 10 percent.
  • Sixty-six percent of respondents said it is very important or somewhat important that Arizona schools continue providing all-day kindergarten.

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