Sacred Heart University poll: Half of state’s higher earners may leave in next five years

In a new statewide public policy poll conducted this month by Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy, Connecticut residents overwhelmingly indicated significant anxiety over the State’s budget woes and the prospect of deep cuts to essential services. To help close the budget gap, Connecticut residents favor alternative tax revenue sources, including tolls on Connecticut’s highways and legalizing and taxing marijuana.

Results from 1,000 residents polled across the state during the first two weeks in October show that one out of three residents (30.3%) believes the overall quality of life in Connecticut is “declining.” Also, three out of four residents, or 76.4 percent, agree the State should offer more incentives in the form of tax credits and rebates to retain and attract businesses; and the majority of residents polled (84.4%) believe that towns should merge and consolidate public services to help cut costs.

Other significant findings include:

  • More than three out of five respondents are finding it “very” or “somewhat difficult” to maintain their standard of living

  • Nearly half of respondents making more than $150,000 per year reported they are considering moving out of Connecticut within the next five years

  • Regardless of their demographic profile, residents agree that “creating new sources of tax revenue” is the preferred method of addressing the State’s budget woes, rather than cutting funding to programs and services or raising existing taxes

  • The areas of greatest concern among residents are the “high overall cost of living” and “high overall tax burden” in Connecticut

Awareness is high among Connecticut residents that the State is embroiled in a budget crisis and that it is required by law to adopt a balanced budget. Residents also indicated strong support for their local town or city government officials to address and improve the issues facing the State.

“The State is at a critical crossroads, and it appears obvious from the results of this survey that residents are experiencing a high degree of anxiety over the State’s budget battles, taxes and the cost of living in Connecticut,” reflected Lesley A. DeNardis, director of the SHU Institute for Public Policy, and the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at Sacred Heart University, launching in fall 2018. The University’s newly established Institute for Public Policy partnered with GreatBlue Research, Inc. in coordinating this poll.

“Analysis indicates that public awareness and frustration over bipartisan bickering and the State’s failure to reach reasonable compromises that might help reverse declining income and quality of life will lead to residents ‘voting with their feet’ in the coming years,” DeNardis added.

Robin Cautin is dean of SHU’s College of Arts and Sciences, where the Institute for Public Policy is housed. “We’re delighted to be sponsoring an empirically based approach to better understanding the issues that affect Connecticut residents,” Cautin said. “In turn, we hope that the data derived from these polls will help foster constructive dialogue in the public sphere. Moreover, the poll will serve a pedagogical purpose in our MPA curriculum, enabling students to have hands-on experience with survey development, implementation and data analysis.”

According to Michael Vigeant, CEO of Great Blue Research, polling will be conducted quarterly on behalf of SHU’s Institute for Public Policy. Polls will solicit thoughts on the quality of life in Connecticut, visions of how the state can address current issues and challenges, ideas for how Connecticut can become more “business friendly,” concerns over retail prices, income and the cost of living and confidence in local, state and federal government.

“This is the perfect time to be checking the State pulse on issues of great concern to its residents and leaders,” Vigeant said. “Having a national, professional and objective polling institute dedicated to researching Connecticut’s challenges can provide a vital stream of information relevant to decision-making taking place in Hartford and in city halls across Connecticut. We want to do our part to bring objectivity and data-driven decision-making to the table through unbiased, accurate data collected from a representative demographic of residents.”

A PDF file of complete polling results is available at The next SHU Institute for Public Policy poll is slated for December 2017.