Little Support Anywhere for Federal Aid to States
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS,
Posted: June 29, 2010
You probably knew this was coming, but here it is: when asked how they would address the fiscal crises of states and municipalities, Americans strongly support “none of the above.”
States face a combined budget shortfall of about $112 billion this year and as much as $180 billion next year, according to estimates by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Many are already laying off thousands of teachers and cutting health care for the poor, and a few are raising taxes.
Now, a new Pew Research/National Journal poll shows that only 26 percent of respondents said the federal government should try to ease the budget crunches in almost every state in the country.
Unfortunately, lopsided majorities also opposed all of the other main options for balancing state budgets as well. According to Pew, a nonpartisan research group, 73 percent were against cuts in primary and secondary education; 71 percent were against cuts in police, fire and safety programs; 65 percent were against cuts in state health care services, and 58 percent were against higher taxes.
All of this is highly relevant to the battles underway in Congress. Last week, Senate Republicans blocked a watered-down bill by Democrats that would have provided extra money to state Medicaid programs, unemployment benefits. Democrats had already given up on a proposal to provide $23 billion to prevent the layoffs of about 100,000 teachers nationwide.
The Pew poll indicates that Senate Republicans stand to win kudos from voters for blocking the bill. It remains unclear if they will also get credit for the consequences.