Poll Shows Voters Support Pension Reform, I&R, and Spending Limits

HARRISBURG, PA – The Commonwealth Foundation today released results of a recently commissioned statewide poll measuring Pennsylvanians’ opinion of three landmark reforms.  The survey of 700 registered voters was conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research Company between April 7 and 12, 2010.  The key findings are follows:

Spending Limits: Two-thirds (66%) of Pennsylvanians favor legislation that would limit state spending growth to inflation and population growth. This support transcends all demographics tested, including region and party registration.  These results parellel previous polling of this question commissioned by the Commonwealth Foundation in 2005 and 2008.

Q: Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering legislation that would limit the annual increase in state government spending to inflation plus population growth. For example, if inflation was three percent and population growth was one percent, state government spending could increase no more than four percent for that year. Generally speaking, do you favor or oppose this legislation?
Total Favor Total Oppose Undecided/Refused
All Voters 66% 20% 14%
Republican 65% 20% 15%
Democrat 66% 20% 14%
Independent 72% 15% 13%

Pension Reform: By a 54% to 34% margin, respondents favored legislation that would place all new government hires in a 401(k)-type retirement plan, rather than the defined-benefit pension plans in which government workers are currently enrolled.

Q: Most government employees – including teachers, state workers, judges, and legislators – receive a pension plan which provides a guaranteed annual payment upon retirement. There is legislation to move all new government employees to a 401(k) type plan, similar to what many employees in the private sector receive. Generally speaking, do you favor or oppose this legislation?
Total Favor Total Oppose Undecided/Refused
All Voters 54% 34% 12%
Republican 58% 33% 9%
Democrat 50% 36% 14%
Independent 60% 29% 11%

Initiative and Referendum: An overwhelming 75% of Pennsylvanians support citizen-directed initiative and referendum, like citizens in 24 other states have. Over two-thirds of voters in every category surveyed (save Philadelphia voters, at 57% favor) support I&R.

Q: Currently, 24 states have initiative and referendum. Initiative empowers citizens with the ability to propose new laws for voter approval at election time. Referendum allows citizens to repeal laws passed by the legislature with a majority vote. Generally speaking, do you favor or oppose giving citizens the power of initiative and referendum?
Total Favor Total Oppose Undecided/Refused
All Voters 75% 17% 8%
Republican 81% 13% 5%
Democrat 69% 21% 10%
Independent 78% 12% 10%


EDITOR’S NOTE: The full results and crosstabs can be found here.

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The Commonwealth Foundation (CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.