April 22, 2019 | 52° F

New Jersey residents cite dissatisfaction with state policies

Photo by Rutgers.edu |

February’s installment of the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics’ “State of the Garden State” poll found large discrepancies between how 1,203 adults in New Jersey view the state’s policies. This can be reflective of what demographic is being analyzed.

In a tale as old as time, New Jerseyans are still dissatisfied with their taxes.

The February 2018 installment of the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics’ “State of the Garden State” poll showed that 82 percent of surveyed residents said they are “dissatisfied” and 60 percent said they are “very dissatisfied” with how the state government has handled taxes.

The poll, a screenshot of how Garden State residents feel about a variety of issues ranging from cost of living to air and water quality, sampled 1,203 adults who were contacted from Nov. 15 to Nov. 27, 2017.

“So we’ve asked a lot of these questions over the past five decades, time and time again,” said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. “This is a particular stand-alone report, but like I said a lot of this new data is based on previously asked questions and that way we can create trends and analyze a lot of these issues over time.”

She said that the discussion has changed from what the most important statewide issue is, to what Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) should try to tackle first, but the number one, perennial concern among respondents consistently is taxes.

The poll also measured sentiments toward other economic standings in the state. Approximately three quarters of people said they are “very” or “somewhat” dissatisfied with how the state has handled both costs of living and affordability, according to its findings. Government spending and the state budget also received similar criticisms.

On a positive note, New Jerseyans overall still consider the state a quality place to live. According to the poll, 6 out of 10 residents answered that New Jersey is an “excellent” or “good” place to live. Delving into those numbers, findings show the more money someone makes and them having a degree contribute to them viewing the state more favorably.

Approximately 6 out of 10 New Jerseyans also said they are very or somewhat satisfied with both air and water quality in New Jersey and higher education.

Interestingly, respondents who have lived in New Jersey longer had increasingly negative feelings toward the state. 

According to the poll, 29 percent of New Jersey residents said it was a better state to live in than any other while 28 percent say it is worse, and 31 percent say it is the same as any other state. Thirty-six percent of residents in the state said it was “only fair” or “poor,” and 48 percent of lifetime residents echoed similar sentiments.

Millennials are most eager to move, according to the poll.

Koning said the reason could include a variety of points, depending on many variables.

“It depends on how different age groups, how satisfied they feel on those particular points … the dissatisfaction is really widespread,” she said.

Residents also believe they have better quality of life in their neighborhood, followed by their city and town, more so than their state as a whole, Koning said.

She explained that overall New Jerseyans are positive about quality of life in the state, but that over time the number has slightly declined from approximately 70 to 80 percent to the 60 percent mark it stands at today. But, the trend of residents rating their neighborhood higher than outside areas remained consistent. 

“I think we see the same kind of thing with congressional approval versus approval for your own member of Congress, the closer to home you are the more favorably you are going to look upon that item,” Koning said.

In terms of politics, she said that positivity is affected by what demographic is being analyzed. Democrats are more positive about Murphy’s administration and Republicans are less so.

"I think it really comes down to which New Jerseyans are seeing a brighter future … most of this uptick has been among Democrats and some independents — so looking at bipartisanship — we don’t see the same intensity among Republicans,” Koning said.

Ryan Stiesi

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