Voters support Blueprint Nebraska by 4 to 1 margin
In a December 2021 poll, Nebraskans said there’s a relationship between the state’s high taxes and its economic challenges with growing the workforce and population. These voters agreed that eliminating state income taxes on the first $50,000 individuals earn would help us complete for workers.
These are the same 812 voters who previously told us they were overwhelmingly in favor of eliminating Nebraska’s inheritance tax across party lines. As a disclaimer, the margin of error for this poll was 3.44%, and because each response percentage is rounded to the nearest figure, some of the totals may not add to 100%.
As another part of that same survey, we asked Nebraskans about the details of the Blueprint Nebraska tax plan by name, including its proposed elimination of state income taxes on the first $50,000 of income. The proposal, which is now contained in Legislative Bill 1264, would eliminate sales tax exemptions to fund that change, increase support for property tax relief, and create new programs focused on growing the workforce.
Here are the responses to the first Blueprint-related question.
Immediate support for this proposal reached 70%, with 21% opposed, and 10% unsure.
The initial partisan makeup of supporters included 74% of Republicans, 58% of Democrats, and 73% of independents. Fifteen percent of Republicans, 33% of Democrats, and 17% of independents started out opposed.
The Blueprint Nebraska tax modernization plan does not merely cut tax rates or adjust the tax structure, though. It also creates new student loan relief programs and doubles the state’s Research & Development tax credit.
Sixty-nine percent of voters said that made them more likely to support the Blueprint Nebraska plan.
You might think because of the national political discourse that only Democrats would like the student loan relief proposal, but in fact, Nebraska Republican voters favored it even more.
By affiliation, 72% of Republicans, 68% of Democrats, and 65% of independents said student loan relief and support for R&D made them more likely to back the Blueprint Nebraska plan.
There also wasn’t a big statistical difference between different age groups or men and women on this question. Maybe surprisingly, the oldest group of respondents (age 65 and up) was slightly more likely to favor the student loan relief and R&D portion of the package than the youngest group of voters (age 44 and under).
In a follow-up question about their support for the Blueprint Nebraska tax plan, 73% of Republicans, 63% of Democrats, and 60% of independents said they now favored the proposal.
Through the survey, there was a noticeable decline in strong support among independents, with some voters who may have been initially fired-up for big tax cuts on their paychecks retreating to the unsure column. That led to a three-point decrease in overall support, from 70% to 67%. That’s within the poll’s margin of error, and it can happen any time voters have time to think about an issue in more detail.
But overall opposition declined by 6 points, falling from 21% to 15%. This is partially due to an increase in support for Blueprint Nebraska from Democratic voters once they heard more details. Democrats increased their support for the plan by 5 points and opposition among these voters fell by 12 points.
There’s a lot for Nebraska leaders to draw from those figures and the other results.
Nebraska state Sen. Mike McDonnell, an Omaha Democrat, is the introducer of LB1264, which contains the Blueprint Nebraska tax modernization plan. He’s on solid ground with most voters in his own party from the get-go, but he also has the ability to increase his support among his party members as he explains what the plan actually does.
Supporting this bill also means the vast majority of Republican and independent voters who see a connection between taxes and the state’s economic challenges are going to be open to lending Sen. McDonnell their ears.
But there’s plenty of learning here for Republican lawmakers, too. Voters in all parties are looking for bigger answers than simply which policies are going to result in them paying the least amount in taxes. In this poll, a large chunk of Democratic voters expressed willingness to give tax changes a go, and it likely helps that the reforms are part of an overall vision of modernizing the state and supporting priorities like student loan relief.
Republican voters are not unwilling to look at more ways the state can provide benefits to workers either, if they are delivered with the aspiration of making Nebraska’s economy stronger and improving the business climate.
Across the board, voters responded positively to ideas like eliminating state income taxes on the first $50,000 individuals earn, or providing loan relief for trade school graduates, which are proposals that deliver significant and tangible benefits to working people Nebraska needs and to whom most Nebraskans can relate.
Another notable takeaway from comparing these results to the responses of our previous poll questions is that there isn’t a very wide gulf between voters’ conceptual concerns about taxes and their openness to a specific policy proposal like the Blueprint Nebraska plan.
While it’s not a very high bar to ask people if they want taxes to be lower, it’s more challenging to get voters to agree about the details of changing the way the tax system works. But this wasn’t a problem for most voters when discussing the Blueprint Nebraska plan, especially among Democrats.
Fifty-four percent of Democratic voters thought Nebraska needed to reduce taxes to better compete for workers, 57% supported the generic idea of eliminating state income taxes on the first $50,000 individuals earn, and 63% of Democrats favored the policy when they learned it was just one part of the Blueprint Nebraska plan, in addition to property tax relief, student loan relief, and investing in research and development. In short, the more Democrats learned about the policy, they more they favored it, or were less likely to be opponents. In the end, their total level of support even exceeded that of independents.
And among voters of different age groups, a total of 72% of voters age 44 and under, 63% of voters age 45-64, and 67% of voters age 65 and over supported the Blueprint Nebraska plan.
If the Nebraskans we surveyed got to be senators in the Unicameral for a day, LB1264 would have supermajority support, with too few opponents to stage a filibuster. When it comes to creating a lasting tax modernization plan for Nebraska, that’s a strong foundation to build upon.
Here's more poll results from this same group of voters and information about LB1264: