Poll finds majority favor continuing 6-mill levy

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MISSOULA – Seventy-one percent of likely voters in Montana report they would vote to reapprove the 6-mill levy if the election were held at the time of polling. Eight percent of voters said they were undecided.

Using the ballot language approved by the Montana State Legislature, the Big Sky Poll at the University of Montana measured Montanans’ opinions on whether or not to continue an existing 6-mill property tax levy that has funded the university system since 1948 and will expire in January 2019 without voter reapproval.

According to the Montana Secretary of State’s office, 56.8 percent voted in favor of the referendum in 2008, the last time it was on the ballot. The February 2018 Big Sky Poll found that 72 percent of respondents said they would vote for to continue the levy.

However, 46 percent of Montanans are “not at all familiar” with the 6-mill levy, while 7 percent are “extremely familiar” with the referendum. Sixty-eight percent of respondents who live in the five largest cities in Montana report higher levels of familiarity with the referendum than rural residents.

Ninety percent of self-identified Democrats would vote for the referendum, compared to 54 percent of Republicans. Support for the referendum also corresponds with level of education. Respondents with higher levels of education stated that they would vote to continue the 6-mill levy at a higher rate.

The 6-mill levy must be reapproved every 10 years. It costs the owner of a $200,000 home about $24 per year and provides about $20 million in funding for higher education in Montana. When survey respondents were provided with this information, 69 percent of voters said that they would vote to continue the 6-mill levy.

The Big Sky Poll was conducted via telephone Aug. 13-31, with 466 randomly selected likely voters in the state of Montana. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level. Use of poll findings requires attribution to the UM Big Sky Poll.

The poll collects and reports information about Montanans’ perceptions of local, state and federal issues.

Full results from the poll can be found on the UM Big Sky Poll website at http://umt.edu/bigskypoll.

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