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Michigan Radio/PSC poll finds voters want more state money spent on jobs and less on prisons

Budget tiles
Simon Cunningham

A Michigan Radio/Public Sector Consultants poll of 600 likely voters in Michigan found that if they were making today's tough budget decisions, a majority would invest more in job creation, and most would make cuts to prisons.

The findings were released today - a day before Governor Snyder is expected to announce where he thinks money in the state budget should be spent, and where it should be cut.

When the respondents were asked where the state should invest more resources, three main categories topped the list.

  1. Creating jobs - 32.5%
  2. K-12 education - 23.8%
  3. Maintaining transportation infrastructure - 13%

CEO of PSC Jeff Williams says job creation and education are typically found at the top of these polls, but there is one issue typically not found at the top - road funding.
How to fund road repair and maintenance in Michigan is a big topic right now. Voters face a May ballot question that seeks to raise the state sales tax to, in part, raise more money for roads and bridges.

Williams said that issue is reflected in this poll.

"I was surprised to see roads in clearly the third position," he said. "If you asked me before, I'd say roads would be in the 3 to 6% range. That it's up in the 13% [range,] I think it gives proponents of the May question - I think there's hope. Slim. But hope."

Here are the full results:

Where should Michigan invest? | Create infographics
Spending money is the easy part, how about spending cuts?

As we found out earlier this year, Michigan is facing budget cuts.

Officials will have to trim around $300 million out of this year's budget, and around $500 million out of next years budget.

PSC's Williams puts the scale of the cut into perspective.

"We could close every state police post," said Williams. "Layoff every Michigan state police trooper. And shut down the entire Secretary of State [all the DMV and elections offices]. So let's close the State Police and close the Secretary of State, and now we've saved $800 million. So that's the scale of the cut."

So where should the Governor cut?

If our 600 likely voters had to make the call of where to cut, prisons tops the list, but you can see there's a lot of uncertainty after that.

Where should Michigan cut? | Create infographics
We'll hear where Snyder plans to make his cuts when he unveils his budget tomorrow.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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