Poll: Voters would cut grocery tax but spend budget surplus, keep teaching impact of racism on society

Published 4:59 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2022

As the 2022 General Assembly debates new laws and the state budget, Virginia voters support cutting the 2.5% grocery tax either by total repeal or granting a low-income tax credit, and they would spend the state budget surplus on education, public safety and social services, rather than return it to taxpayers, according to a survey by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University.

Also, voters would require some professions to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but not students; favor action on climate change; oppose banning Critical Race Theory from schools; and oppose restoring restrictions on abortion.

  • Budget surplus: A majority of Virginia voters (59%) prefer spending the state budget surplus on education, public safety and social services, rather than providing tax cuts or tax rebates (38%).
  • Grocery tax: Voters overwhelmingly support cutting the 2.5% grocery tax, either by a total repeal (47%) or by giving low-income Virginians a tax credit (25%), while 24% of voters say keep the tax in place.
  • Critical Race Theory: Voters support teaching how racism continues to impact American society (63% to 33%) and oppose a ban on the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools (57% to 35%).
  • Masks and vaccine mandates: Virginia voters support vaccine mandates for first responders (58%), teachers (57%) and medical providers (61%), while opposing mandates for elementary students (55%) and middle school students (51%). On masks in schools, voters say health data should be used to determine mask requirements (56%) versus leaving the decision to parents (41%).
  • Police in schools: Voters strongly support stationing a police officer in every school (70%).
  • Abortion: A plurality oppose a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion (49% to 44%), while a majority oppose requiring an ultrasound (57% to 36%) and a ban on abortions at 6 weeks (58% to 33%).
  • Environment and energy: A majority of voters say climate change is already affecting Virginia and should be a top priority (34%) or a medium priority (32%) for the governor and General Assembly; 22% say it should be a low priority and 11% say not a priority at all. Voters support the state participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon cap-and-trade program (67% to 26%) and the Virginia Clean Economy Act (67% to 28%), a law requiring Virginia electric utilities to generate 100% of their power from renewable sources by 2050.

“It’s not surprising to see many Virginia voters say climate change should be a priority for their state government,” said Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, research director of the Wason Center. “Sea level rise, harm to ecosystems and extreme weather largely accord with scientists’ expectations of climate effects here.”

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The results of this survey are based on interviews of 701 Virginia registered voters Jan. 26-Feb. 15. The margin of error is 4.2%. The full report is online at https://cnu.edu/wasoncenter/ .