UM Poll: Montanans Support Continuing 6-Mill Levy

October 02, 2018

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, which 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 that they would vote for to continue the 6-Mill 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. The Big Sky Poll is led by Sara Rinfret, director of UM’s Master in Public Administration Program, and Justin Angle, UM associate professor of marketing, in conjunction with eight seminar students from UM’s MPA and business analytics programs. 

The survey was commissioned with support from the UM Social Science Research Laboratory. The UM Big Sky Poll will be conducted on an ongoing basis, with its next iteration in Spring 2019.

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

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Full Results:

 

Table 1: The Nov. 5, 2018, ballot will include a referendum created by the Montana Legislature on the 6-Mill Levy that supports the Montana University System. How familiar are you with this referendum?

 

Extremely Familiar

7%

Moderately Familiar

19%

Somewhat Familiar

28%

Not At All Familiar

46%

 

Table 2: If the election were held today, would you vote for or against continuing the 6-Mill Levy? How sure are you about your vote?

 

Vote For 71%

Sure about my vote

81%

 

Might change my vote

19%

Vote Against 21%

Sure about my vote

65%

 

Might change my vote

35%

Undecided 8%

 

 

 

Table 3: Education level and support for 6-Mill Levy

 

 

Some High School

High School/GED

Some college

Associate degree

Bachelor’s degree

Post-Baccalaureate

Vote For

13%

57%

68%

71%

78%

81%

Vote Against

75%

38%

23%

24%

13%

13%

Undecided

13%

6%

9%

5%

9%

6%

 

Table 4: Party identification and support for 6-Mill Levy

 

 

Republican

Democrat

Independent

Vote For

52%

92%

70%

Vote Against

37%

4%

21%

Undecided

11%

4%

9%

 

Table 5: Respondents were informed that the referendum would continue a statewide property tax that funds the Montana University System and costs the owner of a $200,000 house about $24 a year. With this information, would you vote for or against continuing the 6-mill levy?

 

Vote For

69%

Vote Against

23%

Undecided

7%

Contact: Sara Rinfret, director, UM Master in Public Administration Program, 406-243-4702, sara.rinfret@mso.umt.edu.