Survey of Pennsylvania Economists
March 1998

1.) How would you rate Pennsylvania's overall business climate?

Excellent - 1%
Above Average - 20%
Average - 53%
Below Average - 15%
Poor - 11% 

2.) If a friend approached you for information about locations for opening a new business anywhere in the USA, would you recommend Pennsylvania?

YES - 42%
NO - 24%
Uncertain - 34%

3.) Do you agree with this statement: "The most important factor for a company deciding where to locate is the cost of doing business."

YES - 49%
NO - 42%
Uncertain  - 9%

4.) The Tax Foundation reports that Pennsylvanians work an average of 2 hours and 49 minutes each workday to pay their federal, state and local taxes. How do you rate that tax burden?

TOO HEAVY - 57%
JUST ABOUT RIGHT - 38%
TOO LIGHT - 5%

6.) In marketing Pennsylvania to the nation's business community, which of the following would you highlight as the state's key asset? (Choose only one.)

Cost of Living - 12%
Quality of Life - 34%
Tax Rates - 2%
Regulatory Environment - 1%
Legal Environment - 2%
Infrastructure - 3%
Quality of Workforce - 35%
Growth Potential - 11%

7.) Which recent reform in Pennsylvania most improved the state's business climate and competitiveness? (Choose only one.)

Workers' Compensation Reform - 34%
Cut in the Corporate Income Tax Rate - 28%
Cut in the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax - 5%
Increases in Public Education Funding - 27%
Welfare Reform - 6%

8.) How would you rate the quality of the state's workforce?

Excellent - 8%
Above Average - 48%
Average - 43%
Below Average - 1%
Poor - 0%

9.) Under the "Homestead Amendment," legislators have the option of taxing residential properties at different rates than business and industrial properties. Which new system of local taxation do you favor? (Choose only one.)

Cut residential property taxes; raise business property taxes - 5%
Replace residential property taxes with a local income tax - 34%
Replace residential property tax with a local sales tax - 11%
Cut residential property taxes; cut government spending - 44%
Replace business property taxes with a local income or sales tax - 6%

10.) Governor Ridge's 1998-99 proposed budget calls for a General Fund spending increase of 3%, nearly twice the rate of inflation. Would you favor capping the growth of state spending at the rate of inflation?

YES  - 42%
NO - 48%
UNCERTAIN - 10%

11.) Governor Ridge's 1998-99 proposed budget calls for an increase in the education subsidy for public schools of 3.5%, about twice the rate of inflation. Would you favor capping the growth of state spending for education at the rate of inflation?

YES - 28%
NO - 66%
UNCERTAIN - 6%

12.) Do you favor a tax-supported, school choice program that allows parents the freedom to choose a public, private or parochial school for their children?

YES - 53%
NO - 38%
UNCERTAIN - 9%

 13.) Should Pennsylvania's voters be empowered with the right to ballot initiatives and direct referendums?

YES - 72%
NO - 13%
UNCERTAIN - 15%

14.) Aside from the cost of infrastructure improvements (roads, sewers, etc.), new sports stadiums should be funded 100% with private revenues.

YES - 72%
NO - 17%
UNCERTAIN - 11%

15.) Pennsylvania, along with most other states, has recently enacted reductions in business taxes and regulations. Has the pace and degree of reform in Pennsylvania been sufficient to put the state in a more competitive position, ie., significant enough to produce a positive national impact and attract new business?

YES - 24%
NO - 35%
UNCERTAIN - 41%

16.) How do you think the financial situation in Asia will effect Pennsylvania's economy?

Major Positive Effect - 1%
Minor Positive Effect - 4%
No Significant Effect - 48%
Major Negative Effect - 4%
Minor Negative Effect - 43%

17.) What effect do you think Governor Ridge's budget will have on Pennsylvania's job growth rate?

Major Positive Effect - 1%
Minor Positive Effect - 32%
No Significant Effect - 50%
Major Negative Effect - 6%
Minor Negative Effect -11%

18.) What effect will the elimination of the state's personal income tax for families of four with incomes below $25,000 have on Pennsylvania's economy?

Major Positive Effect - 1%
Minor Positive Effect - 51%
No Significant Effect - 42%
Major Negative Effect - 2%
Minor Negative Effect - 4%

19.) What do you think would be the effect on business in Pennsylvania of a Clinton resignation or impeachment?

Major Positive Effect - 8%
Minor Positive Effect - 3%
No Significant Effect - 56%
Major Negative Effect - 21%
Minor Negative Effect - 12% 

20.) On policy matters, rate President Clinton's performance in office.

Major Positive Effect - 22%
Minor Positive Effect - 44%
No Significant Effect - 3%
Major Negative Effect - 15%
Minor Negative Effect - 16%

21.) As a role model and in terms of personal responsibility, rate President Clinton's performance in office.

Major Positive Effect - 3%
Minor Positive Effect - 16%
No Significant Effect - 20%
Major Negative Effect - 19%
Minor Negative Effect - 42%

22.) Which philosophy of economic growth do you favor?

Cut business taxes and regulatory reform - 46%

(Higher profits through lower business costs produce greater investment, increased competitiveness, and more employment.)

Lower consumer taxes - 36%

(Increase in consumer demand will stimulate economic growth, an increase in supply, higher investment and more employment.)

Assertive Government Spending - 18%

(Higher spending on education, public funding of stadiums, etc.) 

23.) State the level of basic economics among the general population. (Understanding of the role of entrepreneurship, the basic working of free markets, public policy, the ideology of capitalism, etc.)

Excellent - 4%
Above Average - 4%
Average - 17%
Below Average - 44%
Poor - 31%

24.) Should a basic course in economics be required for graduation from Pennsylvania's high schools and colleges?

YES - 79%
NO - 11%
UNCERTAIN - 10%

25.) To achieve greater diversity on campus, should colleges make special efforts to hire and tenure more conservative professors?

YES - 17%
NO - 64%
UNCERTAIN - 18%

26.) To level the financial playing field between private colleges and state-run colleges, would you favor replacing direct subsidies to colleges with direct aid to students, to be spent at either public or private colleges?

YES - 47%
NO - 37%
UNCERTAIN - 16%

27.) Which of the following legal reforms do you think would have the greatest impact on improving the state's business climate? (Choose only one.)

8% - Replace joint liability with proportional liability
0% - Admit at trial if plaintiff's losses have been compensated from other sources.
12% - Place limits on awards for non-economic damages (emotional distress).
5% - Place limits on punitive damages (awards designed to punish a defendant.)
16% - Enact product liability reform (eliminate manufacturer's liability if a product is misused, establish cut offs on how many years a manufacturer can be held responsible for alleged defects, etc.)
41% - Enact and enforce penalties for plaintiffs and lawyers who bring frivolous lawsuits.
19% - Require the loser of a lawsuit to pay the legal fees for both sides.

28.) Would you favor shrinking the number of state legislators by 10% per year until Pennsylvania meets the national average in the number of citizens per legislator?

YES - 64%
NO - 22%
UNCERTAIN - 14%

29.) Would you favor capping the pay increases of state politicians at the level of the median pay increase in the state in the private sector?

YES - 66%
NO - 25%
UNCERTAIN - 9% 

30.) Do you agree that legal reform in Pennsylvania which brought greater efficiency, fairness and predictability to the civil justice system would significantly improve the state's business climate?

YES - 66%
NO - 11%
UNCERTAIN - 23% 

31.) Do you agree with this statement: "Along with small business owners and large corporations, the average consumer and taxpayer would be helped by reforms in the civil justice system?

YES - 63%
NO - 10%
UNCERTAIN - 27%

32.) Do you agree with this statement: "The present liability lawsuit system is working well and should not be changed."

YES - 12%
NO - 59%
UNCERTAIN - 29%

33.) Who deserves the bulk of the blame for lawsuit abuse?

Plaintiffs - 13%
Juries - 6%
Judges - 7%
Lawyers - 55%
Legislators - 18% 

34.) How do you think Pennsylvania rates nationally on items of cost that affect business (tax rates, regulatory costs, legal environment, utility prices, labor costs, growth opportunities, etc.)

Excellent 2%
Above Average - 9%
Average  - 52%
Below Average -26%
Poor - 11%

35.) Governor Ridge's 1998-99 budget proposes targeted tax cuts for businesses in specific areas (12 Keystone Opportunity Zones) and for specific individuals (families of four earning under $25,000 annually would pay no state income taxes.) As an alternative to targeting, would you favor across-the-board tax relief, e.g., a cut in the state's corporate income tax or a cut in the personal income tax rate?

YES - 41%
NO - 43%
UNCERTAIN - 16%

36.) Should the public school curriculum place more emphasis on practical vocational education and job skill training?

YES - 46%
NO - 39%
UNCERTAIN - 15%

37.) Should colleges place greater emphasis on developing the basic math and writing skills of students?

YES - 69%
NO - 24%
UNCERTAIN - 7%

38.) Which of the following do you think would have the greatest impact on improving student performance? (Choose only one.)

8% - More public spending
14% - The ending of tenure for principals and teachers
24% - An increase in school competition through vouchers
4% - The development of charter schools
0% - Increased external control over the systems, by mayors, etc.
50% - An improvement in academic demands

 39.) Do you agree that the deregulation of electric utilities, permitting retail choice for residential and commercial users, will be a substantial benefit to consumers?

YES - 44%
NO - 36%
UNCERTAIN - 20%

40.)
In the transition period during utility deregulation, should utilities be permitted to recover the loss in value of their investments (through consumer exit fees, etc.)?

YES -19%
NO - 64%
UNCERTAIN - 17% 

41.) How important is utility deregulation to Pennsylvania's overall competitiveness?

Very Important - 29%
Somewhat Important - 47%
No Importance - 24%

42.) How important are stadiums to a region's economic development and job growth?

Very Important - 6%
Somewhat Important - 47%
No Importance - 47% 

43.) Generally speaking, do you think Pennsylvania's economy is on the right track or headed in the wrong direction?

Right Track - 43%
Wrong Direction - 18%
Uncertain - 39%

44.) If you could make only one change to improve Pennsylvania's economy, what would it be?

(Open-ended question. Responses shown in raw numbers.)

20 - Improve support for education
15 - Tax reform/cut individual taxes
17 - Cut corporate taxes
8  - Improve infrastructure
4 - Support small business (start-up money, tax credits)
3 - Improve PA's public image
7 - Government reform (downsizing, privatizing, term limits)
2 - Tort reform
1 - Welfare Reform
1 - Tax jury awards at 75%

The Lincoln Institute survey of professional economists in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was mailed to 944 economists on March 2, 1998. By the response deadline of March 20, 1998, a total of 109 surveys were returned and included in this tabulation.

Copyright 1998 by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. Quotations of this data is permitted with attribution to the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc.