Battle Creek Enquirer
By: David Waymire
February 24, 2011
More than three out of four Michigan voters oppose the elimination of the state's Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage working families, according to a new poll released today.
"Michigan is speaking out loud and clear, saying it does not support proposals to end the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families, which would dramatically increase child poverty in Michigan," said Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services, which is helping coordinate a broad group of organizations supporting the EITC. "Political leaders who want to balance the budget and pay for business tax breaks by raising taxes on working families - most with children - are on the wrong side of the voters."
The survey of 600 Michigan voters was conducted on Feb. 12 to 17 by EPIC/MRA of Lansing, and commissioned by the Michigan League for Human Services.
The poll found that 76 percent of Michigan voters, including majorities from all walks of life and political leanings, oppose ending the EITC, with 70 percent saying they strongly oppose its elimination. Gov. Rick Snyder and several legislative leaders have called for eliminating the Michigan EITC, which encourages people to seek work and improves local economies.
"Every demographic group opposes eliminating the EITC, including Republicans - even Republican men and Tea Party supporters, including Tea Party supporters who are strong Republicans. To take away the EITC would truly be going against the grain of public opinion," said EPIC/MRA President Bernie Porn.
The survey asked four questions. The initial question explained how the federal EITC works, and then noted that participants in the state EITC receive 20 percent of the federal credit, reducing the tax burden on 780,000 Michigan families by an average of $432 a year, at an annual cost of $355 million. "A proposal before the Michigan Legislature would eliminate all funding for the state Earned Income Tax Credit to balance the state budget," the question noted.
In this initial question, 67 percent of Michigan voters said they "strongly opposed" ending the EITC and 3 percent "somewhat opposed" ending it; only 26 percent supported ending the EITC.
The more people knew about the benefits of the EITC the more likely they were to oppose its elimination. All respondents who were not "strongly opposed" were then provided with more information, including that the money from ending the EITC would help pay for a business tax cut, that loss of the state EITC would increase child poverty and that people who receive EITC funds tend to spend the money quickly in their local communities.
This information increased support for the EITC, with the number "strongly opposed" to elimination rising to 70 percent, those "somewhat opposed" to 6 percent, and those who favor ending the EITC declining to 20 percent.
Even among those who identified themselves as Tea Party supporters, 59 percent opposed ending the EITC, as did 70 percent of those who said they were opposed to abortion. The survey found that 59 percent of Republican men and 66 percent of Republican women opposed ending the EITC.
"This is not a liberal or conservative issue," said Paul Long, president and CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference, a long-time supporter for the EITC. "Ronald Reagan was one of the most ardent supporters of the EITC, calling it pro-family and pro-jobs."
Long said he was not surprised that 71 percent of self-identified Protestant voters and 72 percent of Catholic voters said they opposed ending the EITC. "Differing faith communities support efforts to create a just society and policies that lift working families out of poverty," said Long.
Eric Schneidewind, president of AARP Michigan, noted that 78 percent of those over 50 opposed ending the EITC. "Senior citizens understand that young families with children, who are the main beneficiaries of the Earned Income Tax Credit, are struggling right now. These are reliable voters, and we will make sure they know where their state lawmakers are standing."