Date of this Version
This working paper presents findings from the first annual Nebraska Rural Poll. The study is based on 2,754 responses from households in the 87 nonmetropolitan counties in the state. The objectives of this paper are to provide information on how rural Nebraskans view the following issues and questions:
• Do rural Nebraskans support or oppose the following alternatives to Nebraska's current system of taxation and spending?
- The elimination of property tax as a revenue source.
- The reduction of property taxes (by approximately $400 million annually) by limiting property tax levies for local units of government.
- The freezing of local spending for three years beginning in 1997. - The reduction of property taxes by increasing income and/or sales taxes.
- The expansion of opportunities for gambling.
• Do rural Nebraskans support or oppose the following tax changes as a way of reducing the federal deficit?
- An increase in federal income tax paid by individuals.
- An increase in federal income tax paid by corporations.
- An increase in federal estate taxes.
- The establishment of a national sales tax.
-The establishment of a national value-added tax.
• Which, if any, of 14 federal programs would rural Nebraskans choose to spend less on to help reduce the federal deficit?
In the case of Nebraska’s taxation and spending issues, it is important to emphasize this poll was done in March of 1996. Since then, there has been a rapid increase in the amount and level of public discussion -- especially in terms of specific proposals that are on the November 5 election ballot. Whether the increased recent dialogue, discussion, and debate have changed the earlier views of those responding to this poll is unknown.
Key findings from the March poll include the following:
• Sixty-two percent of rural Nebraskans support limiting property tax levies for local units of government.
• Fifty-seven percent support freezing state and local spending levies for three years beginning in 1997.
• Fifty-six percent support reducing property taxes by increasing income and/or sales taxes.
• Fifty-one percent support elimination of property taxes as a revenue source.
• Thirty-seven percent support an expansion of gambling opportunities.
• A majority of rural Nebraskans support increasing the amount of federal income tax paid by corporations.
• A majority of rural Nebraskans oppose increases in the federal estate tax and federal income taxes paid by individuals.
• A majority of rural Nebraskans favor reduced spending on foreign aid, food stamps, the national endowment for the arts and humanities, aid to families with dependent children, and farm programs.
• A majority of rural Nebraskans oppose reductions in spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans compensation and pensions.