Hartford Courant October 23, 2017 - Results from a new poll at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield are a mixed bag for Connecticut, with widespread concerns about high cost of living and high taxes but acknowledgment of a good quality of life.
“I think, generally, people like Connecticut,” said Lesley A. DeNardis, who runs the university’s Institute for Public Policy. “We don’t want to be gloom and doom about our state. But the financial aspects are pretty daunting for a lot of people.”
The poll was conducted this month as legislators remain mired in the longest budget stalemate in state history. The results, DeNardis said, corroborate a lot of what is heard anecdotally about the mood of the state.
Respondents were overwhelmingly aware of the budget impasse. A majority concluded the best way to solve it was not through spending cuts or increases to existing taxes but rather by creating new sources of revenue like legalizing marijuana or installing tolls on Connecticut highways.
According to the poll, 70.6 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat support legalizing and taxing marijuana and 55.6 percent strongly or somewhat support tolls.
“In both of these items, the people that we surveyed were in favor but neither are favored by legislative leadership,” DeNardis said.
When asked to rate their quality of life in Connecticut, 14.7 percent said it was “excellent,” 47.4 percent said “good” and 30.2 percent said “fair.”
But almost two-thirds (63.9 percent) of those surveyed said it was “very” or “somewhat” difficult to maintain their standard of living, citing increases in taxes as well as high costs for energy and other goods. The quality of life in the state is declining, 30.3 percent of respondents said, while 12.6 percent said it was improving and the rest said it remained unchanged.
When asked about issues affecting the state, 93.7 percent of respondents expressed concern for the “high overall cost of living” and 90.9 percent were worried about the “high overall tax burden.”
Comparing the cost of living in Connecticut to surrounding states, 78.6 percent said they believed it was higher.
DeNardis said one finding that "should have public officials concerned” is that nearly half of respondents making more than $150,000 a year said they were considering leaving the state within the next five years.
Sacred Heart plans to release its next batch of poll results in December and DeNardis expects the university to continue to conduct polling next year, including on the state’s wide-open gubernatorial contest.
“Connecticut is at an inflection point,” she said. “There is an ability to take a situation that is at a low ebb and really help foster and effectuate positive change. That’s how we are approaching this.”
The poll surveyed 1,000 people by phone and online from Oct. 3-12 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Great Blue Research, a Cromwell-based research firm, helped Sacred Heart to conduct the poll.