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January 10, 2011 at 11:50 AM

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Elway Poll: 71 percent say cutting waste and fraud can balance state budget

Posted by Richard Wagoner

The Legislature opens today for a wrenching 105-day session that will focus on chopping billions from the state budget.

But respondents to the latest Elway poll have a clear target for all that budget cutting: waste and fraud.

Some 71 percent of those polled said the state would have enough money to balance the budget if it eliminated waste and fraud.

Of course, one person's waste is another person's necessary state program.

As pollster Stuart Elway wrote:

"Eliminating waste does not affect ordinary citizens, while cutting programs at least has that possibility. Eliminating waste is taking money from programs you don’t like or getting rid of idle bureaucrats. Cutting programs may take away something you want state government to be doing."

Forty-seven percent of respondents also said the state could balance the budget if it eliminated business tax loopholes. Another 38 percent said closing those loopholes wasn't enough, while 15 percent didn't know.

The poll interviewed 405 registered voters in Washington between Jan. 4-7. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

The state projects a budget shortfall approaching $5 billion for over the next two years.

When asked how the Legislature should proceed to balance the budget, 39 percent favored budget cuts and eliminating tax loopholes, 31 percent said cuts alone, and 25 percent said cuts and tax increases. The remaining 5 percent didn't know.

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