Pennsylvanians like Corbett, but not his budget as much


Unlike Gov. Corbett, the majority of Pennsylvanians want to tax the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and don't agree with his administration's proposal to cut education funding in half, according to a Franklin & Marshall College poll released Thursday.

Still, the poll found, Pennsylvania residents generally have confidence in Corbett's ability to handle the state’s budget problems.

The survey is the first read on the public's mood since Corbett unveiled his $27.3 billion budget proposal, which called for steep cuts to both public schools and universities while remaining true to the governor's campaign pledge not to raise any taxes or fees.

Overall, the poll found, Pennsylvanians are divided over how to handle the state’s fiscal situation. Two in five residents (or 39 percent) believe the state should balance its budget through cuts while a similar proportion (38 percent) believes the state should both cut spending and increase taxes to balance the budget.  Few (6 percent) believe that tax increases alone are the way to solve the state’s budget problems. 

On the issue of taxes, there remains strong opposition to increasing the state income and sales tax: only one in four residents (or 27 percent) supports increasing the income tax and only one in three (or 36 percent) favors increasing the sales tax.

But there is strong support for taxing drilling companies (62 percent favor while 30 percent oppose). An even larger percentage of residents favor taxing smokeless tobacco and cigars (72 percent favor while 26 percent oppose).

On the flip side, Pennsylvanians do not support the education cuts proposed in Corbett's budget. Funding cuts to school districts, the poll found, are opposed by 78 percent while cutting funding to public universities in the state is opposed by 67 percent of respondents.  Cuts to Medicaid do not draw much support either (70 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose these cuts).

The telephone survey of 521 adult residents was conducted over five days ending Monday. The sampling error margin is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points 

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