JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new poll of likely voters in Duval County by the University of North Florida's Public Opinion Research Laboratory shows that the pension tax referendum has backing from a majority of voters, with 51 percent of respondents supportive. This is an increase from the same group's June poll in which, only 41 percent of respondents supported the pension tax referendum.
“The undecided folks from the June survey seem to have gotten on board with (Mayor Lenny) Curry’s pension tax plan,” the laboratory's faculty director, Dr. Michael Binder, said. “Across party lines, support for the referendum by Republicans is strong, but even the Democrats are more in favor than opposed. This poll is good news for the mayor’s effort to pass the pension sales tax extension.”
The referendum proposes a 30-year half-cent taxes tax to begin in 2030, when the existing half-cent tax paying for city construction projects expires. Curry said the tax, along with closure of the city's three existing pension plans and requiring existing employees to pay 10 percent toward their own retirement, will address the city's pension $2.7 billion deficit.
This follow-up poll was conducted partnership with The Florida Times-Union.
The poll shows men support the tax more than women, white voters are more in favor of it than blacks, and more Republicans support it than Democrats.
Curry said he's not surprised the majority are backing his plan.
"I've made the case to every neighborhood in Jacksonville and will continue to make the case between now and Tuesday," Curry said. "What people been recognizing is what I've been saying the entire year I've been in office: We have a crisis that's been ignored for close to a decade and we are going to put this crisis behind us come Tuesday."
The head of the Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee and others have spoken against the tax plan.
"There is only one poll that really counts. That's the one that comes up on August 30," said John Winkler, head of Concerned Taxpayers. "Granted, would I feel better if I also had $2 million to spend on this project? Absolutely. But all things considered, (we're) doing pretty well for being outspent 1,000 to 1."
The poll asked 607 likely voters: "Do you support or oppose the referendum to be presented to Jacksonville voters in the August 30 primary election that reads: Permanently closing up to three of the City’s underfunded defined benefit retirement plans, increasing the employee contribution for those plans to a minimum of 10 percent and ending the Better Jacksonville half-cent sales tax are all required to adopt a half-cent sales tax solely dedicated to reducing the City’s unfunded pension liability. Shall such pension liability sales tax, which ends upon elimination of the unfunded pension liability or in 30 years maximum, be adopted?”