New poll shows Minnesotans prefer spending cuts to tax increases for solving budget deficit

According to January’s Thinking Minnesota poll, Minnesotans by wide margins are telling the Minnesota legislature to cut spending rather than raise taxes to deal with the $1.3 billion projected budget deficit. When asked their opinion about the best way to address the budget shortfall, a commanding 63 percent said to “cut spending” while only nineteen percent said to “raise taxes.” Minnesotans are even more steadfast against legislators enacting new spending programs that require accompanying tax hikes, by 71-22 percent.

“In a year characterized by government-ordered shutdowns and challenging times in many sectors of the economy, a large majority believe that government, like individual Minnesotans, should tighten its belt and not demand more tax revenue,” said American Experiment President John Hinderaker.

The poll was conducted for American Experiment by Meeting Street Insights, a nationally recognized polling operation based in Charleston, South Carolina. Using a mix of cell phones and landline phones, the company interviewed 500 registered voters in Minnesota between December 3-5. The margin of error for a sample size of N=500 is ±4.38%.

Overall, respondents preferred cuts to come from welfare programs (37 percent) and infrastructure (32 percent), although that priority switched between the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area and Greater Minnesota.

“Our polling shows that Minnesotans believe—correctly—that there is a lot of waste in state government spending. This month’s survey gives our legislators clear marching orders: Balance the budget by eliminating wasteful and low-priority spending. And whatever you do, don’t try to enact new spending programs,” added Hinderaker.

Underwriting the Riots

While policymakers in the Twin Cities continue to struggle with how to pay for the massive damage inflicted on their cities by rioters and arsonists during the weeklong George Floyd riots at the beginning of the summer, a large plurality of Minnesotans (46 percent) believe the legislature should devote no Minnesota taxpayer dollars to pay for the damage.

Rating Public Schools

The reputation of Minnesota’s public schools appears to have taken a hit as educators cope with the challenges of COVID-19. The pollster asked respondents to assign a letter grade to indicate the achievement of public schools in both the March 2020 and the current edition of the survey. While schools earned an “A” or “B” from 49 percent of Minnesotans in December, this is a full 10 percent decline from March. Six percent assigned “F” grades to the schools in the latest poll, twice the number in March.

“During the COVID epidemic, the public schools have failed Minnesotans. Remote learning has been sub-par for nearly all kids, and disastrous for many. It is no wonder that Minnesotans’ perceptions of public-school performance have dropped, especially among parents. The silver lining is that many Minnesotans are, for the first time, taking a serious look at alternatives to underperforming public schools,” said American Experiment Policy Fellow Catrin Wigfall.

White Privilege

A small majority (54 percent) of Minnesotans think “white privilege” is a problem in Minnesota, especially in the context of racial unrest earlier this summer. The strongest majority was among non-white Minnesotans (73-25 percent). In contrast, a majority of residents in Greater Minnesota (51-44 percent) do not view it as a problem.

MN CAE - December 2020 Survey (v1)