Connecticut Residents Cite Concerns about Increased Living Costs, Sales Taxes

News Story: June 7, 2019


Hartford Capitol Building and the SHU Institute for Public Policy logo
Hartford Capitol

Results from a new poll by Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy, conducted in collaboration with the Hartford Courant, shows many Connecticut residents believe their quality of life remained either “excellent” (19.8 percent) or “good” (40.6 percent), but more than half of residents surveyed (58.7 percent) believe it is “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to maintain their standard of living. Their top-reported reasons for this difficulty included increases in state taxes, rising utilities and fuel costs such as electric, gas and oil, and overall increases in the cost of general goods.

The comprehensive, 33-question telephone and online survey of 1,000 Connecticut residents was conducted between May 10 and May 23.   

Final budget debates examining sales taxes and other potential sources of new income rounded out the legislative session, which ended June 5. But residents clearly are concerned that living in the state is getting more expensive and are worried about increasing costs and their ability to sustain their quality of life. Residents earning less than $50,000 annually are particularly nervous about their future in Connecticut, but these worries cut across all earnings levels. The state budget passed by the Connecticut General Assembly on Tuesday does little to address these concerns and will likely exacerbate them as it includes sales and excise taxes on a host of consumer goods.

Poll results show that 50.8 percent of residents earning $50,000 or less report their quality of life is either “fair” (38.1 percent) or “poor” (12.7 percent) compared to only 23.1 percent of residents earning $150,000 or more. At the same time, 33.7 percent of residents earning $150,000 or more report their quality of life in Connecticut is declining, and 38.8 percent of residents ages 45-64 also report their quality of life in Connecticut is declining.

Connecticut residents also weighed in on a host of legislative measures including the legalization of recreational marijuana. However, after some early initial successes as the measure passed several key committees, it did not come before the full legislature for a vote during this session. Governor Ned Lamont indicated his support for legalization during his candidacy, and the poll indicates that many residents (59 percent) believe the potential tax revenue from sales of these products can potentially help bolster state finances.

On a related note, more than two-thirds (69.1 percent) of Connecticut residents surveyed “strongly” (50.3 percent) or “somewhat” (18.8 percent) support the state legislature’s proposal of expunging the records of individuals with convictions for low-level marijuana-related offenses. In addition, 57.3 percent of survey respondents favor having the majority of revenue from recreational marijuana sales be directed to urban areas and cities that have been disproportionally affected by the costs of drug-enforcement measures.

Other key findings from the SHU Polling Institute/Hartford Courant survey include:

  • High levels of support (70.2 percent) exist for raising the state income tax on individuals earning $500,000 or couples earning $1 million. Additionally, two-thirds of residents (66.5 percent) reported to “strongly” (43.4 percent) or “somewhat” (23.1 percent) support the implementation of a 2 percent tax on the investment earnings of single filers earning $500,000 or more and couples earning $1 million or more
  • 5 percent report they would prefer if Connecticut worked to close the current budget deficit by reducing spending as opposed to raising taxes, which is only supported by 4.1 percent of those polled
  • Regarding Governor Lamont’s campaign promises, 84.5 percent of respondents reported it is important to them, as voters, that the Governor keeps his promise that, if elected, he would not raise income or sales taxes
  • Connecticut residents continue to oppose electronic tolls on the state’s highways (58.8 percent). In addition, 51.3 percent of those who support tolls largely do so with the provision that money collected go into a transportation “lockbox” account to be used only for road and bridge improvements and infrastructure repairs, per a state referendum passed last year

“Taxes, quality-of life-issues and the high cost of living in Connecticut continue to dominate poll results,” said Lesley DeNardis, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and director of Sacred Heart University’s master of public administration program. “Residents are looking for tax relief and are turning to state legislators to find solutions that won’t further hurt their pocketbooks. The state budget passed by the Connecticut General Assembly this week will likely exacerbate these concerns by raising sales and excise taxes as well as lifting the sales tax exemption on previously excluded goods and services.”

GreatBlue conducted the Connecticut-specific scientific telephone survey on behalf of the SHU Institute for Public Policy, interviewing 1,000 residents. Statistically, this sampling represents a margin for error of +/-3.02 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. This is the first poll presented under the new partnership with the Hartford Courant.  

Sacred Heart’s Institute for Public Policy, which was established in 2017 in the College of Arts and Sciences, is aligned with the University’s new master of public administration program. In addition to hosting state-wide polls, the institute conducts public policy research, hosts public forums and workshops and serves as a public-policy learning incubator for students.

A PDF file of complete polling results is available at www.sacredheart.edu/pollresults.

Additional Poll Results