Published 01/22/16

Contact: Dyana Koelsch, 401-415-0370, Dyana@dk-comm.com

Hassenfeld Institute releases survey of opinions on state direction, tolls, more

The Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership today released its quarterly survey on key issues facing the state. This is the fourth public opinion survey the Institute has published since 2014.

The poll first asked respondents if they favored or opposed several proposals for bridge and road repair. On proposals to put tolls in place to help fund repairs:

  • 43.9% favor Governor Raimondo’s proposal to assess a toll on large trucks to pay for the $1 billion in revenue bonds to fix the roads and bridges; while 49.4% said they oppose the plan.
  • 37.7% favor an alternative “pay as you go” plan, that could still include tolls but avoid interest payments, while 51.9% said they oppose the plan.

Breaking the numbers down further – in both of the toll proposals the percentage of those who were strongly opposed was more than double those who were strongly in favor

When asked about proposals that do not include tolling to fix roads and bridges:

  • 57.8% said they favor reallocating money from the state’s budget to fix the state’s roads and bridges; 32.2% were opposed.
  • 41.1% were in favor of an increase in the diesel fuel tax; 49.1% were opposed.

The favorability questions were followed with a match-up where respondents were asked to choose which of the four plans they’d prefer.

  • 37.2% selected reallocating state money
  • 21.9% selected revenue bonds paid back by tolls on large trucks
  • 12.7% selected an increase in diesel fuel tax
  • 12.5% selected a pay as you go plan which could include tolls
  • 8.2% were not sure
  • 7.5% said none of the above

On other issues: 35.4% said the state is headed in the right direction, 43.9% said wrong direction. The numbers shifting only slightly since September 2015 when 38.5% felt it was moving in the right direction.

Job creation was ranked as the most important issue that the General Assembly should address. However, when asked if recently passed measures (including tax credits for businesses, $25 million program for development of vacant land in Providence and a tourism marketing campaign) would make a difference Rhode Islanders are divided: 42.1% said the changes would create jobs, while 44.9% said they would not make a difference; 13% are not sure.

On the issue of education – with recent testing showing most students are not meeting expectations on the English or math assessments those polled were asked what would best help improve education:

  • 25.4% said make it easier to deal with underperforming teachers
  • 20.2% said give principals more authority
  • 19.7% said redirect the school aid formula to areas of greatest student need
  • 18.5% said expand school choice
  • 7.7% said lengthen the school day
  • 8.5% said not sure

The poll conducted by Fleming and Associates questioned 401 Rhode Island registered voters (30% on cell phones 70% on landlines). The poll was conducted between January 12 and January 15, 2016. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9%.

Additional information about the poll is attached here and here.

Public Leadership at Bryant University

The Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership provides public officials and others involved in the development, management, and execution of public policy with the tools and skills needed to make informed decisions and manage responsive organizations in order to govern and lead public sector and non-profit organizations effectively.