FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – The majority of Connecticut voters feel that Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed tax refunds are a “political gimmick,” according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.
Malloy announced in January that he plans to use a portion of the state’s $505 million surplus to give a refund to Connecticut taxpayers. His plan would give individuals $55 and joint filers $110.
“We should give something back to Connecticut taxpayers, because if the people of Connecticut are going to share in the sacrifice during tough times, they should also share in the recovery as things begin to turn around,” Malloy said of the refund in his State of the State address last month.
But about 49 percent of Connecticut voters think the refunds are a “bad idea,” compared with 43 percent who favor the refunds, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday. But when asked whether the idea was “a political gimmick” or “good public policy,” 63 percent of respondents leaned toward gimmick, while only 23 percent felt it was a good policy, the poll says.
Republicans were most against the idea, with 59 percent opposed to the refund and 89 percent calling it a “gimmick.” Independent voters were also opposed to the refund, with 51 percent saying it was a bad idea and 71 percent saying it was a “gimmick.”
Democrats mostly thought it was a good idea (53 percent) but also leaned toward the “gimmick” side, with 41 percent choosing that answer versus 39 percent calling it “good policy.” About 3 percent of Republicans and 7 percent of Democrats called it both.
Respondents also criticized Malloy’s handling of what they deemed the state’s top issues. The poll asked voters what they felt the state’s top priority should be in an open-ended question. About 36 percent named jobs or other economic issues as their top priority, followed by 14 percent citing tax issues and 11 percent pulling for education.
"Gov. Dannel Malloy gets great marks for his handling of the snowstorms, but low marks for voter priorities, the economy and jobs, taxes, education and the budget," said Douglas Schwartz, director of the poll.
In the same poll 60 percent of respondents disapproved of Malloy’s economic policy, compared with 33 percent in favor. His approval rating on tax policy was even lower at 29 percent, with 63 percent of respondents disapproving.
The vote was closer on education, with 43 percent disapproving of Malloy’s policies and 41 percent approving. Voters also agreed that Malloy handled this winter’s snowstorms well, with 86 percent of all respondents approving of his work this winter and only 10 percent disapproving.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. criticized the governor's handling of the economy.
“Dan Malloy’s failure to fix Connecticut’s economy has made him one of the nation’s most unpopular governors, with an approval rating that has never gone above 50 percent," Labriola said. "Despite going on the offensive over the past few months, proposing cheap election-year gimmicks in a desperate attempt to save his re-election chances, Governor Malloy has been unable to convince voters that he deserves a second term."