Legislature gets little respect from state voters in survey

LANSING – It’s not a popular time to be a lawmaker in Michigan, new polling results show.

Only 20 percent of registered Michigan voters approved of the Legislature’s job performance in a survey done last month by Raleigh, N.C.-based Public Policy Polling.

The GOP-controlled Legislature is even unpopular among members of the majority party. While respondents who identified as Democrats disapproved of the Legislature 4-to-1, those who consider themselves Republicans disapproved, too, albeit by a smaller margin – 39 percent to 33 percent.

Gov. Rick Snyder fared better – 40 percent of survey respondents approve of the two-term Republican governor, while 47 percent disapprove and 13 percent had no opinion. Unlike lawmakers, however, Republicans overwhelmingly approved of Snyder’s performance.

The Legislature has not yet passed a comprehensive funding plan to fix Michigan’s roads and bridges. In May, voters by a margin of 80 percent to 20 percent trounced a ballot proposal that would have raised the state’s sales and gas taxes while removing the sales tax from fuel sales in an effort to raise $1.2 billion.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,072 registered Michigan voters by phone and online between June 25-28.

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Mon, 07/06/2015 - 10:24am
It's difficult to respect them when the sex lives of Mi seem to take priority over what I always assumed govt role was to be. The public safety And welfare. The disconnect was SO apparent after the vote. When the leaders of the legislature went before the tv cameras and declared it proved voters wanted no new taxes. If they read comments on Bridge or Mlive they would have known what we voted against was that mess of goulash they called a roads Bill. We wanted a dedicated, simple road and infrastructure bill that, yes, meant a tax hike. It seems they are at it again, robbing Peter paying Paul pandering to the no tax vocalists. Busted roads,rusting overpasses were getting what we ( didn't) pay for.
Disgruntled Taxpayer
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 12:05pm
I don't believe that "we" is accurate, here. I want a simple road maintenance and improvement bill without a tax increase. The money for roads is already in Lansing's hands if they'd simply appropriate it more sensibly. I'm betting that a representative sample of Michigan taxpayers (I.e. not what you get on Bridge or MLive) agrees.
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 4:40pm
I am in favor of raising our taxes to pay to fix the roads and bridges. My taxes are less today that they were many decades ago. The sad part of the legislators are those who decided to sign a no tax increase to get elected. This limits ones options when dealing with any issue. By the way, I have been a Republican for fifty years. We have to get over being cheap when trying to solve problems.
Disgruntled Taxpayer
Tue, 07/07/2015 - 12:46am
Who is being cheap, John? Look at the data. Michigan's sales tax is 16th highest among the 50 states. Average (mean) income tax paid by Michigan families is 24th highest. Yet Michigan is 50th in per capita spending on roads. The failure to properly fund Michigan's roads does not belong to the taxpayers. It falls squarely on our legislators. The necessary funding is already available yet time and again our elected officials in Lansing have refused to make Michigan's roadways a priority when allocating the substantial financial resources at their discretion. They receive the 4th highest compensation ($71,685 per person annually plus expenses) among lawmakers in the nation. What Michigan needs is to use its current financial resources to flip those positions. We should be 4th per capita in road funding and last in the nation in spending on legislators.
Tue, 07/07/2015 - 8:30am
I do not disagree with the information that you have provided. There should be a list of priorities based on State functions which should be funded listed for all of us to see. This would give all of us a view of how the legislature has been setting up pet projects, whether Republican or Democrat. We may have different priorities in how revenue is spent. Still, I do not see my taxes as excessive.
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 11:07am
Every time a news outlet wants to do one of these surveys, before asking whether someone approves or disapproves of state legislature or the US Congress, they should first ask who is their legislator or senator? If they can't give you their name (and I'll bet most can't.), you might as well be asking if they're in favor or against Dark Matter. A meaningless waste of print and effort! Who cares!!!
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 11:22am
Sorry Matt I disagree. I do not think one needs to know their legilators name (although I agree it is a good idea) to have an opinion on whether the legislature is doing the job for which they were elected. Simply put they are not. How do we get their attention. I hope such survey's might help.
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 1:11pm
So would you believe that someone who doesn't even know their representative would have more than a very vague understanding of the issues vs. the actions of the legislature? Let alone they'd have a clue of why something isn't "being done" and whether any solutions being considered are something they'd like or not? I'm skeptical. My guess is this is why we elect representatives rather than vote on everything via our smart phone. Polls just confuse the matter and are not "news".... just being realistic.
Tue, 07/07/2015 - 12:59am
Matt, i agree. 90% are ignorant. but they all get to vote.
Linda Cook MacDonald
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 11:21am
I wish I could have taken part in the survey. I don't think I would have helped raise the number of approval. Frankly, I think the last time people in the state voted, they did not realize they would be electing the ALEC and/or Karl Rove's groups for the state legislature not to mention congress. For some reason no one wants to talk about the influence of these "think tanks" and so-called 501 3c organizations on the legislation we are getting passed in the state. One of the respondents suggested that a phone survey about legislators would be well served if BEFORE beginning the called had to identify their legislator. I think it is probably correct that many have no idea who is representing them or what their votes have been. Finally, we need Campaign Finance Reform in the state and the nation and we need open reporting of our Michigan legislators of what their financial ties are, how they earn a living outside the legislature, and who contributes to their campaigns in whatever way. I have little hope that the legislature will do what is progressive - at least a little bit - regarding transportation funding - and that means more than roads and bridges. For having term limits these folks have no courage. They want to take their 6 or 12 years of pay and perks without really doing the hard work of getting out from under groups like ALEC. Term limits have made the whole matter worse, not better.
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 12:57pm
Recently I was reading about Sweden and how it ranks consistently among the world's best countries in terms of social conditions. The country far exceeds us in every meaningful category. After extolling its virtues, one author said, "of course Sweden has its problems, high taxes being one of them". This is the mentality of the "no new taxes crowd". They want the best but will not admit it costs a lot to have the best. I've lived in two "no tax" places in Michigan and they had terrible schools, road, services, etc. No thanks! Also, at age 70 I can tell you I have paid far less taxes than I did when I was young. I think these people want to go back to the 1850's when people were self-sustaining on farms. Thankfully I now live in a community with excellent schools, services, parks, etc. all of which had won multiple awards for their excellence because people here voted to pay for them! (Note, the no tax people keep saying the money is there but when they try to find it----ask them specifically where it is----they never can. They merely rob Peter to pay Paul.)
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 1:51pm
Our bloated prison population is due to mandatory sentencing and the war on drugs while violent crime has been going down. Let's get real with arresting pot smokers and save a minimum of $250 million right now for roads. Then legalize pot and tax it like Colorado and raise another $250 million. When was the last time you were attacked by someone solely under the influence of marijuana? Let's put the tax cheats and Medicare scammers in jail instead and save millions more. If the Republicans don't have the guts then find some libertarian-leaning Democratic politicians to make these changes.http://michiganradio.org/post/what-michigan-can-do-reduce-states-prison-...
Disgruntled Taxpayer
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 3:38pm
I think I saw a libertarian-leaning Democrat once, but I can't be certain. He was partially obscured from view by Bigfoot.
Tue, 07/07/2015 - 1:11pm
There are many Democrats (like myself) who are civil libertarians, but recognize a need for regulated capitalism.
Charles Richards
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 4:02pm
"Legislature gets little respect from state voters in survey" The question is: Is the legislature dysfunctional or are the voters being unrealistic? It could be that the legislature is attempting to respond to irrational constituents, or respond to different groups of constituents who have contradictory goals.
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 4:28pm
Snyder and this GOP-controlled Legislature are killing our public schools, but that is their intent. The damage they are inflicting will takes years and years to undo...if ever. What a horrible disservice to our children and educators. I hope every last one of them is ousted during the next election cycle.
Mon, 07/06/2015 - 4:57pm
I am curious what the point of such surveys are? As best I can tell there is nothing new, we have heard this for years and years. I don't feel that this article provided any information of use. Do the surveys ask any questions oft the polled population so they can identify areas of concern that the legislator could address to change the preceptions [aside from Party affliation]? I wonder if the surveys ever ask what people think about surveys. I have to admit that my confidence in the surveys, the surveyors is very low (lower than 'politicians') when there is no apprehent purpose or relation of the survey questions to how legislators could change the current preceptions. What would be more useful would be the surveyers asking what are the knoweldge and skills the polled population finds valuable to a legislator. This way the legislators could make an effort to be better informed. I wonder if Ms. VanHulle has any interest in writing an article that asks the Bridge readers what knowledge and skills that migh help legislators be more effective.
Tue, 07/07/2015 - 6:12am
Michigan's legislature is afflicted by weak leadership, hyper-partisanship, and religious fundamentalism. Its only purpose is to pander to moneyed interests. Since term limits came in the legislature's collective IQ seems to be lower. My own state rep is a caricature of buffoon who is stupidly hostile to the other party and anyone who questions the direction this state is headed.
Tue, 07/07/2015 - 11:00am
A local state senator in the Lansing area is always spouting garbage on various controversial issues, when the local news says "coming up a state senator has concerns about gay marriage...." or various other issues I know exactly who it is and what his line is going to be. Hard not to be cynical about state government when morons are in charge.
Thu, 07/09/2015 - 10:49am
Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,072 registered Michigan voters by phone and online between June 25-28. What is the difference between identified and consisdered ? Also what was the breakdown of the 1072 registered Michigan voters?
Mon, 08/24/2015 - 8:06pm
These polls miss the point. Sure people are unhappy with THE legislature but what about MY legislator. Not so much.