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Beacon Hill Institute Survey: Most expect Massachusetts economy to improve in 2004; Fiscal conservatives divided on outsourcing, gambling; favor Canadian drug sales
Respondents to the Beacon Hill Institute’s 2004 State of the Household Survey are more optimistic about the national economy than about the state economy and more optimistic about the state economy than about their personal finances. While 73% believe that the national economy will improve this year, only 56% are similarly hopeful about the Massachusetts economy. Fifty-two percent (52%) see their household finances as neither improving nor worsening. Only 23% believe that their own economic standing and that of the state is improving.
The survey, sponsored by the Beacon Hill Institute, has been conducted each January since 1998. More than 450 individuals responded to this year’s mail-in survey which has a margin of error of +/- 6 percentage points.
The BHI Survey represents a sample of fiscal conservatives in Massachusetts who support free-market policies and the candidates who espouse them. This sample overwhelmingly believes that both Governor Romney (75%) and President George W. Bush (68%) are performing well in their jobs. Respondents to the survey:
· oppose tax increases (75% want the personal income tax rate cut to 5%);
· want to abolish the state excise tax on cars (61% would favor this measure);
· are unwilling to expand social programs (68% oppose extending unemployment benefits, so-called Baby UI, to new parents);
· and believe that it will not be necessary to raise taxes in 2004 (67% oppose a tax hike).
However, the survey identified several splits among this sample that highlight differences of opinion on current issues:
· Forty percent (40%) favor limitations on the ability of the Commonwealth to contract with firms that outsource jobs overseas, while 50% oppose such measures with 11% undecided.
· Forty-nine percent (49%) oppose the establishment of casino gambling, while 41% favor it.
· Forty-five percent (45%) favor while 43% oppose a statewide ban on public smoking.
· Fifty-one percent (51%) oppose any law mandating universal health care in the Bay State (down from 56% last year).
Seventy-three percent (73%) believe that states, cities and towns should be free to purchase drugs from Canada.
While strongly opposing targeted tax cuts for the biotech industry (42% to 30% with 29% voicing no opinion), an overwhelming majority of respondents show a willingness to provide tax incentives for manufacturing (74% to 17%). Only 26% support both tax breaks.
Respondents are also of mixed mind when considering the state’s Medicaid system. Forty-two percent (42%) agree that the Commonwealth should limit the ability of elderly citizens to shift assets in order to qualify for publicly assisted nursing home care; 46% oppose the idea, while 12% voice no opinion. At the same time 43% oppose asking Medicaid recipients to pay more out-of-pocket co-payments, while the same number favor the idea, and 15% voiced no preference.
As with previous surveys, respondents demonstrate support for local government even though they favor abolishing a source of revenue to localities, the excise tax. Sixty-six percent (66%) opposed cutting local aid to cities and towns and only 18% favored the measure with 17% holding no opinion. Forty-four percent (44%) of respondents who expressed confidence in Governor Romney’s performance also opposed cutting state aid to local cities and towns
The Beacon Hill Institute for Public Policy Research focuses on federal, state and local economic policies as they affect citizens and businesses, particularly in Massachusetts. The Institute, which is part of Suffolk University, uses state-of-the-art statistical, mathematical and econometric methods to provide timely and readable analyses that help voters, policymakers and opinion leaders understand today's leading public policy issues.
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