By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY
The public strongly opposes laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions as a way to ease state financial troubles, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.
The poll found that 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to one being considered in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.
Ohio and several other states that have new Republican governors and legislative majorities are considering laws that would reduce the power of government employee unions to bargain over benefits and work rules.
Wisconsin is the first state to consider the limits, prompting protests that have closed schools and drawn tens of thousands of protesters to the state Capitol in Madison.
The poll results suggest how politically difficult it is to solve budget shortfalls. The survey found that people believe budget problems in their state are real but strongly oppose tax hikes to solve them. Americans are split on whether to cut state services to balance budgets.
The survey of 1,000 adults was taken Monday night. It has a margin of error of 4%.
• 71% oppose increasing sales, income or other taxes while 27% are in favor that approach.
• 53% oppose reducing pay or benefits for government workers while 44% are in favor.
• 48% opposed reducing or eliminating government programs while 47% were in favor of cuts.
Despite the opposition to reducing spending or raising taxes, those surveyed agreed overwhelmingly that their state faces a budget crisis. Sixty-four percent said their state was in financial crisis while only 5% said it wasn’t. The rest were unsure.
The poll found people divided on whether public employee unions are a good thing.