pa survey inflation polling

Commonwealth Foundation Survey Finds Inflation-Weary Voters Oppose Higher State Spending and Taxes

Harrisburg, Pa., April 9, 2024 — Inflation tops the list of Pennsylvania voter concerns in a new survey released today by the Commonwealth Foundation. The poll found taxpayers are weary of state budget spending increases and policy proposals that would lead to budget deficits or tax increases.

The quarterly Common Ground in the Commonwealth poll, the first of 2024, measures Pennsylvanians’ sentiment on state and federal policy issues and officials.

More than two-thirds of voters (68 percent) agree: “Inflation and recent price increases have impacted [their] household’s ability to maintain [their] standard of living.” Nearly six in ten voters (59 percent) oppose Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposal when told it includes a 7.1 percent spending increase and $4.5 billion in new spending, grows the structural deficit to over $6 billion, depletes the Rainy Day Fund, and necessitates a tax hike of more than $2,000 per family of four.

Sixty-one percent of respondents believe that a 7.1 percent state budget increase is too high, with 88 percent stating that “state officials should focus on cutting excessive government spending.”

Other policy proposals that increase spending also faced opposition. A majority (56 percent) oppose a mandatory “1 percent payroll tax on every single worker to fund a government-run family leave program.” Another 56 percent oppose state lawmakers taking “$300 million in sales tax dollars paid by consumers across Pennsylvania to bail out the mass transit system in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.”

Regarding education, voters estimated that Pennsylvania spends only $4,000 per student on public schools, far below the actual $22,000 spent. Meanwhile, 45 percent believe $22,000 per student in annual spending is too high. Only 18 percent believe this amount is too low.

Sixty-one percent oppose paying additional taxes to provide a $6 billion increase in public school funding, knowing the increase would cost roughly $2,000 more in taxes each year for a family of four.

Furthermore, 77 percent of voters support the Lifeline Scholarship Program, which would allow parents with students in the bottom 15 percent of worst-performing schools to use government-funded Education Opportunity Accounts for educational expenses.

Despite a 60 percent approval rating, less than half (47 percent) of voters believe Shapiro has “delivered major accomplishments during his first year in office.” A larger percentage (53 percent) responded they either were unsure of Shapiro’s accomplishments or couldn’t cite any. The most cited accomplishment is the I-95 repair project (9 percent).

“The survey shows little support for Governor Shapiro’s budget and spending increase, or tax hikes,” said Nathan Benefield, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Foundation. “Not a surprise given voters’ concern over inflation and rising prices.”

Benefield continued: “Further, voters overwhelmingly want Shapiro to deliver on his campaign promises—including providing educational options for low-income families and tax and regulatory relief to make Pennsylvania open for business.”


State Direction: 52 percent of respondents see things in Pennsylvania have fundamentally gotten off on the wrong track, a slight downtick since Q4 2023 (55 percent).

Job Availability: 37 percent of respondents say it is a bad time to find a quality job in Pennsylvania, while 22 percent are unsure. 

Elected Officials: Shapiro has 60 percent job approval, while 31 percent disapprove. Sen. John Fetterman’s favorability split almost evenly: 47 percent favorable and 45 percent unfavorable.

If the 2024 presidential election were today, 44 percent would vote for President Joe Biden, 41 percent for former President Donald Trump, and 7 percent for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Sixty percent say they are unhappy with their choice of presidential candidates.

Tax Code: 80 percent of voters find that the federal tax code “is rigged with loopholes and complex regulations that only benefit the politically well-connected and people who can afford accountants and tax lawyers.”

The complete Common Ground Q1 2024 survey is available here.


The Commonwealth Foundation turns free-market ideas into public policies, fostering prosperity for all Pennsylvanians.