In what should be no surprise to anyone, a new Quinnipiac poll shows people are unhappy with Gov. Dannel Malloy’s “tough love” state budget proposal although they are optimistic about the next four years under Malloy. And in what anyone could have told us, people think the plan raises taxes too much. The proposed spending plan would raise taxes by $1.5 billion and cut spending by $1.88 billion while seeking $2 billion in concessions from state employee unions.

Spokesman Roy Occhiogrosso responded to the poll. “With all due respect, this is why the past couple of governors refused to make the tough decisions that needed to be made—because tough decisions often aren’t popular ones. Gov. Malloy has put forward an honest budget that asks virtually everyone in Connecticut to make sacrifices because he believes that’s the only way we’re going to fix what’s broken and put Connecticut back to work. That people are unhappy with those sacrifices is no surprise.”

Here is the news release on the poll:

Connecticut’s new governor, Dannel Malloy, gets no honeymoon as voters disapprove 40 – 35 percent of the job he is doing, with 25 percent undecided, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Voters are optimistic, 55 – 39 percent, about the next four years under Gov. Malloy, the independent University poll finds. And they say 89 – 7 percent that Malloy’s town hall meetings to discuss the budget and the economy are a good idea.

But they disapprove 51 – 32 percent of the way he is handling the budget and turn thumbs down on his budget plan:

• 66 percent say the plan increases taxes too much, as 3 percent say too little and 19 percent say the tax level is about right;
• 39 percent say it cuts spending too little, with 17 percent saying too much and 29 percent say about right;
• 16 percent say it increases taxes on the wealthy too much, as 48 percent say too little and 24 percent say about right;
• 68 percent say it raises taxes on the middle class too much, with 1 percent saying too little
and 21 percent saying about right.
Malloy’s budget proposals are unfair to “people like you,” voters say 56 – 31 percent. Democrats say “unfair” 45 – 41 percent and Republicans agree 65 – 25 percent and independent voters agree 59 – 28 percent.

“Connecticut voters are in a grumpy mood. Nearly 70 percent are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the state and no elected official in this survey has an approval rating above 50 percent,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, PhD.

“But it’s early. Dannel Malloy has been governor for only two months. The first impression of him is decidedly mixed with many voters taking a wait and see attitude. What explains Malloy’s low approval rating? Only 32 percent approve of his handling of the budget, while 51 percent disapprove,” Dr. Schwartz added. “Specifically, they think he is raising taxes too much. While voters think he is raising taxes too much on the middle class, they think he could raise taxes on the wealthy more.
“Most damaging is that by a big margin, voters say Malloy is unfair to them.”

By a narrow 50 – 46 percent margin, voters say a tax hike is necessary to balance the budget. But voters say 54 – 18 percent that a tax hike will hurt the state economy and 69 percent say a tax hike would be a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem for their families.

If public employee unions do not make concessions, Malloy should layoff state workers, voters say 50 – 44 percent. Voters in union households disagree 58 – 37 percent. Voters also support 68 – 27 percent a wage freeze for state workers and support 53 – 35 percent furloughs for state workers.

Connecticut voters support 72 – 26 percent increasing cigarette taxes and 68 – 30 percent increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages, but they reject other possible tax hikes:

• 69 – 29 percent against hiking income taxes on anyone making more than $50,000 a year;
• 52 – 47 percent against increasing the state sales tax from 6 percent to 6.35 percent;
• 59 – 40 percent against expanding the sales tax to haircuts, car washes and other services;
• 70 – 29 percent against charging sales tax on clothing and footwear under $50;
• 74 – 20 percent against eliminating the $500 property tax credit on the state income tax;
• 82 – 17 percent against increasing the gas tax 3 cents per gallon.
“Voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Malloy’s proposed increases in the income tax and gas tax. They oppose eliminating the property tax credit and ending the sales tax exemption for clothes under $50,” Schwartz said. “They do agree, however, with proposed increases in ‘sin taxes’ on alcohol and cigarettes, and with wage freezes and furloughs for state employees and – if necessary – layoffs.”
Connecticut voters give President Barack Obama a split 49 – 47 percent approval rating, down from 50 – 44 percent July 16, 2010.

Voters disapprove 45 – 38 percent of the job U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman is doing. In his first approval rating as a U.S. Senator, Richard Blumenthal scores a 49 – 25 percent approval.

From March 1 – 7, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,693 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points. Live interviewers call landlines and cell phones.