March 12, 2019

Poll: CT residents largely oppose highway tolls, grocery tax

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed
An electronic tolling gantry.
HB Photos | Bill Morgan
According to the SHU poll, 89 percent of respondents oppose proposals that would implement a sales tax on groceries and medications.

Despite some recent lobbying by Gov. Ned Lamont, a new poll found the majority of Connecticut residents are not convinced installing electronic tolls on state highways is a good idea for the state.

The poll released Monday afternoon by Sacred Heart University's (SHU) Institute for Public Policy says 59 percent of 1,004 respondents reported that they opposed implementing tolls, with the strongest resistance coming from those between ages 35 to 44 (64 percent) and ages 45 to 64 (65.1 percent).

According to the results, 54.5 percent of people said they would change their driving routes to avoid toll roads if they were implemented on major highways in state.

Respondents were nearly split on whether they believe the projected $1 billion in annual revenue from electronic tolling would be worth an investment of $100 million to operate the highway system, with 39.8 percent saying it's a worthy investment and 38.5 percent against that notion.

Still, 36.2 percent of respondents said they would be "more likely" to back highway tolls if the state set aside funds into the transportation lockbox to ensure they would be spent on highways, roads and bridges. Another 15.1 percent would still support a tolling system regardless of lockbox funding.

The majority of respondents were also concerned about the state's high cost of living and housing, school safety, and newly proposed sales tax on groceries and medications.

Most Nutmeggers, or 62.2 percent, said it's "very difficult" or "somewhat difficult" to maintain their standard of living, with the top reasons being increased or high taxes (57.3 percent) and "state tax increase" (56.6 percent).

Of the 38.7 percent of residents considering whether to move in the next five years, 71.7 percent said they are thinking about moving outside of Connecticut. There were 81.4 percent that said the state has "too few" affordable housing options to rent or purchase for individuals earning minimum wage, or $10.10 an hour.

The majority of respondents, or 70.6 percent, supported raising the state's minimum hourly wage to $15, with 74.5 percent of females and 65.9 percent of men in support.

In addition to higher wages, 89 percent of respondents oppose implementing a sales tax on groceries and medications. Just 8.7 percent of people favored those levies.

Other figures show that 51.1 percent of parents with children in public schools said they fear for their physical safety, and respondents were nearly divided on whether training and arming teachers was an "effective" way to combat school shootings.

Regarding electronic cigarettes, 70.8 percent of respondents favor raising the sales tax for purchasing the smoking product, and 76.9 percent said they support raising the minimum age to buy it from 18 to 21 years old.

"Now that the state and federal elections are past, Connecticut residents are focusing more intently on issues that strike closer to home, such as the high cost of living in our state, school safety and efforts to address Connecticut's fiscal crisis," said Lesley DeNardis, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and director of SHU's master of public administration program.

The survey was created by Cromwell-based market researcher Great Blue Research Inc. in conjunction with SHU students, who administered the 42-question telephone survey between Feb. 13 and March 4.

The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 4.32 points.

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