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2021 Louisiana survey shows majority say state sales tax is too high

BATON ROUGE – Researchers in the Public Policy Research Lab, or PPRL, at LSU Manship School of Mass Communication’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs have released the third of five reports of the 2021 Louisiana Survey. Findings reflect most Louisiana residents want neither spending cuts nor tax increases.

The Louisiana Survey polled 781 adult residents from across the state to find out how Louisianans view their government and its policies. The survey was conducted from January 4 to March 1, and the total sample has a +/- 6.4 percent margin of error.

Findings from the third of five reports indicate the following opinions on state fiscal policy:

  • A bipartisan majority of Louisiana residents thinks that the state sales tax is too high, including 53 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of Republicans. Opinion splits more evenly over the state income tax: 41 percent say it is too high and 37 percent say it is about right.
  • Fifty-two percent (52 percent) of Louisiana residents say they pay about the right amount in state taxes, and 41 percent say they are paying more than their fair share.
  • Pluralities say that low-income people (41 percent), middle-income people (48 percent) and small businesses (50 percent) pay more than their fair share of state taxes. A plurality (50 percent) says that upper-income people pay less than their fair share, and a majority (56 percent) says the same about large businesses.
  • The public has little stomach for budget cuts or tax increases in six specific policy areas: elementary and secondary education; higher education; health care; roads, bridges and highways; prisons and incarceration; and welfare, food stamps and other public assistance programs. While a majority of respondents do not want to reduce spending in any of these areas, only elementary and secondary education gain a majority in favor of higher taxes.
  • Support for more government spending on higher education and support for raising state taxes to fund higher education both fell significantly since 2018, by 12 and 13 percentage points, respectively.
  • Fifty-seven percent (57 percent) favor raising the state gasoline tax if it is used to fund transportation infrastructure. Support is strong among Democrats (60 percent) and independents (62 percent), but lags among Republicans (46 percent).
  • Louisiana residents overwhelmingly favor maintenance of existing transportation infrastructure (67 percent) over expanding its capacity (29 percent).

Michael Henderson, director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Center, is available for interviews. Contact acharbonnet1@lsu.edu  to schedule.

The Louisiana Survey has been conducted for the past 20 years, establishing rich longitudinal measures of public opinion in Louisiana. The mission of the Louisiana Survey is to establish benchmarks as well as to capture change in residents’ assessments of state government services. The survey is further dedicated to tracking public opinion on the contemporary policy issues that face the state. Each iteration of the Louisiana Survey contains core items designed to serve as barometers of public sentiment, including assessments of whether the state is heading in the right direction or wrong direction, perceptions about the most important problems facing the state, as well as evaluations of public revenue sources and spending priorities.

The survey is a project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, an integral part of the Manship School of Mass Communication. The Reilly Center’s mission is to generate thoughtful programs, dialogue and research about mass communication and its many-faceted relationships with social, economic and political issues.

Read the full first report from the Louisiana Survey at http://pprllsu.com/projects/. The fourth of five reports from the Louisiana Survey is slated for release on Thursday, April 8.

For more information, contact acharbonnet1@lsu.edu.

LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab is a joint effort of the Manship School of Mass Communication’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at LSU. It provides a variety of services including survey research, ‘big data’ analytics, social media tracking, and focus group interviews. The Lab combines professional capability, the latest data technologies, and the variety of intellectual assets available at LSU to serve our clients’ research needs.

The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs is partnership-driven, action-oriented and dedicated to exploring contemporary issues at the intersection of mass communication and public life. Its interdisciplinary approach draws together experts from diverse fields to advance research and dialogue. The intent is to inspire our communities to think deeply, take action, develop solutions and broaden knowledge. Underlying the Center’s endeavors is to strengthen and advance the Manship School’s national and state leadership in media and politics.

LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: master of mass communication, Ph.D. in media and public affairs, certificate of strategic communication, and dual MMC/law degree.