70% of Nebraskans say tax and workforce issues are linked
Is tax reform a tired trope in Nebraska politics, or do Nebraskans really consider the state’s tax system out of step with their economic concerns?
A new Platte Institute poll shows most Nebraska voters do think tax policy is part of the reason the state struggles to compete and grow its workforce, and there’s broad agreement Nebraska would be more appealing to job seekers if the state offered lower taxes on the paychecks workers earn.
Importantly, this view is shared among most Nebraska Republican, Democratic, and independent voters and voters of all ages.
These results below are part of a scientific telephone survey of 812 voters in Nebraska, conducted in December 2021. The margin of error is 3.44%. It’s also important to know that in polling, totals may not always equal 100% when the percentage for each group of responses is rounded to the nearest figure.
Previously, we’ve discussed what this same group of voters thought about Nebraska’s county inheritance tax. On this portion of the survey, we asked voters if they saw a relationship between tax policy and Nebraska’s challenges retaining and attracting workers, businesses, and retirees.
Respondents were asked how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the following statement:
Right out the gate, voters are much more likely to strongly agree with this statement (44%) than to strongly disagree (9%). In total, 69% percent said reducing taxes would help Nebraska compete, while 22% said they didn’t agree that it was a part of the state’s struggles, or that tax reductions would help.
Whether voters are analyzed by party, age, or gender, most share this concern.
79% of Republicans, 54% of Democrats, and 68% of independents agreed with the statement, with about 70% agreement from men, women, and different age groups.
Certainly, voters are not saying here that taxes are the only economic challenge facing Nebraska, but that it’s a factor that needs to be taken up. Many voters are immovable believers in the importance of the tax issue and others are on board somewhat.
Elected officials who work to include taxes as part of a larger picture of economic policy in Nebraska will do better with the voters on both sides of the somewhat column—those who are for and against.
Voters were also asked about their level of agreement with one way to reduce taxes in Nebraska. They were presented with a key tax policy change offered under the Blueprint Nebraska tax modernization plan, without referring to the plan by name.
In Lincoln, it’s often stated as an article of faith that Nebraskans only see the need for changes to property taxes, or that Democratic voters, or younger voters don’t think tax changes are a priority for making the state a better place to have a career.
These respondents contradicted each of those assumptions.
70% of voters said ending income taxes on the first $50,000 of income would help the state compete for workers. Only 23% disagreed, while 8% were unsure. By party affiliation, 79% of Republicans, 57% of Democrats, and 66% of independents agreed.
Notably, this proposal was more popular with voters age 44 or younger than any other age group, with 77% support. The often-cited millennials make up a significant share of this voter bloc, since their oldest members are entering their forties. Only 3% of younger voters strongly disagreed with the idea of ending income taxes on the first $50,000 individuals earn.
Of course, paying less in tax is popular with a lot of people, but these results show Nebraskans have concerns about taxes that are not merely limited to what they might personally pay. Here, voters are acknowledging a linkage between tax policy and the state’s economic prospects, including Nebraska’s ability to retain and attract more residents.
Given the events of recent years, these voter concerns about the economy are probably not unique to Nebraska, and leaders in many other states are going to try to answer the call with more robust proposals for tax reform that could create a wider gulf between Nebraska and the rest of the country.
This survey shows Nebraskans in every voter group are ready for policymakers to offer bold tax policies that fit into a larger economic strategy of welcoming residents and job seekers to Nebraska.