Cost of living, housing top of mind for voters in new poll
By Katie Lannan
Massachusetts voters want their state leaders to prioritize issues having to do with high prices, whether for housing, food or the overall cost of living, according to a new poll.
The survey, out Monday from The MassInc Polling Group, asked 854 likely voters how the state should prioritize a host of economic issues. The cost of living emerged as the top issue, with 64% saying policymakers should give it "a great deal" of attention.
Other priorities were the cost of housing, which 60% picked as deserving the most focus, followed by the cost of food at 58% and inflation at 55%.
Those surveyed were relatively satisfied with job creation. Only 37% said that issue deserved the greatest prioritization.
“I think the cost of inflation is affecting everybody on multiple different facets,” said Joe Byrne of the Responsible Development Coalition, which sponsored the poll. “The concern for jobs right now seems to be pretty low, which is good, but the cost of groceries and everyday items is having an effect on working-class people.”
The coalition is made up of developers, contractors and the Carpenters Union and supports real estate development practices including living wages, equal pay, increased affordable and workforce housing, environmental sustainability and community outreach.
Fifty-five percent of poll respondents said they think things in Massachusetts are headed in the right direction, while 29% said the state is on the wrong track.
Voters had an overall more positive take on the state Legislature than real estate developers. Eighteen percent said they viewed real estate developers favorably, and 42% had an unfavorable view. Meanwhile, 42% of poll respondents viewed lawmakers favorably, and 30% unfavorably.
The survey was conducted from Aug. 5 through Aug. 9, days after lawmakers wrapped up their formal sessions for the year without passing a $4 billion economic development package that included one-time tax rebates and a suite of long-term tax reforms.
Legislation to crack down on wage theft — where an employer fails to provide workers with the pay or benefits they are owed — has stalled out for years on Beacon Hill, despite a push from labor unions.
The poll found that about two-thirds of voters were either not too familiar or not at all familiar with the issue of wage theft, but it also tracked majority support for some proposals aimed at curbing the practice.
Sixty-six percent said they'd either strongly or somewhat support holding lead contractors on a project responsible for wage theft by their subcontractors, and 70% indicated support for making wage theft a crime.
Byrne, who is also executive secretary treasurer for the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, said he hopes support from among the public could spur lawmakers to act.
“I think we always have more work to do, so I think the more that we can educate the public and educate the Legislature, I think the better off we will be and the taxpayers of Massachusetts will be,” he said.
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