Poll measures view on privatization, Olympics bid

An automated phone poll of Massachusetts voters by a Florida firm found support for the complete elimination of the Pacheco law, which both branches of the Legislature suspended in part in the state budget delivered Wednesday to Gov. Charlie Baker.

Respondents were also highly skeptical about the proposal to bring the Olympics to Boston in the summer of 2024.

Named after Sen. Marc Pacheco, the law requires state agencies to vet privatization proposals for approval by the state auditor who determines whether they will save money and maintain service levels. Opponents say the law hampers beneficial privatization while defenders say it protects government against bad deals.

Following a cold and snowy winter that ground some MBTA service to a halt, lawmakers passed a budget bill that removes the MBTA from the Pacheco law's strictures for three years.

The poll was conducted by Gravis Marketing for Gray Media, a Republican consultancy, which said its client for the poll was Massachusetts Citizens for Jobs. That group, which lists financial information about lawmakers on its website, says its goal is "holding Beacon Hill accountable and creating a pro-business and pro-jobs environment across the state."

The poll found 59 percent support eliminating the Pacheco law at the T, compared to 25 percent who oppose that.

Asked whether they favor the elimination of the Pacheco law "for all of the state government agencies and not just the MBTA," 52 percent supported that idea while 32 percent were opposed to it.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents believe labor unions have too much influence on state government and 55 percent want less influence by the Boston Carmen's Union, which has mounted a lobbying and public relations campaign against some of the reforms recommended by Gov. Charlie Baker.

The Pioneer Institute has supplied data that claims to show the Pacheco law cost the T $450 million because it blocked the privatization of some bus services. Pat Beaudry, spokesman for the Massachusetts Democratic Party, told the News Service the Republican governor has been regularly echoing the policy positions of the think tank.

The poll surveyed 512 randomly selected Massachusetts voters on July 2 and 3, weighing the results to align with demographics around race, age and gender, said Doug Kaplan, of Gravis Marketing. Kaplan said the poll had a margin of error of 4 percent.

The respondents also skewed Democrat with 55 percent reporting they are Democrats and 20 percent reporting they are Republicans. As of February, Democrats made up 35 percent of registered voters, and Republicans made up 11 percent as independents are the solid majority in the state, according to data from the secretary of state.

Respondents favored providing additional money to the T partially through higher fares by 44 percent with 37 percent opposing that.

Other questions about the Olympics found 64 percent of respondents believe the games will result in a deficit, and 73 percent oppose giving tax breaks to foreign companies "to do business and profit from the Boston 2024 games."

The 37-53 support/opposition for Boston bidding on the Olympics shown in the Gravis poll roughly follows the 39-49 support/opposition breakdown from a June WBUR/MassINC Polling Group survey.



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