UNF poll finds overwhelming support for half-cent sales tax for schools

Poll finds education 2nd only to crime in importance to voters

VIDEO: Ashley Harding reports on where locals stand on hot button issues in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County voters overwhelmingly approve of a half-cent sales tax designed to help repair and replace Jacksonville's aging schools, according to a new poll by the University of North Florida.

Of those who took the UNF survey, 74% said they were in favor of moving forward with the sales tax designed to upgrade aging schools throughout the school district. Only one in five voters said they disapproved of the sales tax, with 4% saying they weren't sure.

The findings revealed the highest support was among Democrats (78%), but 68% of Republicans also showed strong support for the proposed measure.

The Duval County School Board has said the half-cent sales tax is desperately needed and voted in May asking for the measure to be put before voters. The board filed a lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville after City Council withdrew a motion to put a referendum on the ballot.

How would you vote on a local referendum to levy a 15-year half-cent sales surtax for local schools?


“This is the continuation of a trend we’ve seen during polling on this issue several times this year,” said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the UNF polling lab. “Duval registered voters are very supportive of the half-cent sales tax and if given the opportunity to vote, would likely pass this measure easily.”

Duval County school Superintendent Diana Green was gratified to see so much public support.

"The more we talk about public education and we talk about our facilities, the community is becoming more informed," Green said. ":And again, as the superintendent, my No. 1 focus is to ensure that we can support our facilities with the best resources we currently have, to ensure that those facilities remain at a standard, that it's safe for students to be in that facility. But at the same time, we know that we have the oldest facilities in the state of Florida, and we are going to have to invest more in these facilities to maintain that high-quality education."

The UNF poll also revealed approval ratings for Greene and other Jacksonville city leaders. 

Less than half of respondents said they approved of the job Greene is doing.

  • 44% approved 
  • 28% disapproved
  • 70% said they felt her position should be elected
  • 25% said her position should stay as an appointed one

State Rep. Jason Fischer is (R-Jacksonville) is moving forward with a bill asking the Legislature to change the post from an appointed position to an elective office.

Mayor Lenny Curry’s job approval was also polled.

  • 47% approved of the job he's doing as mayor
  • 29% disapproved

Jacksonville City Council received 36% approval and 38% disapproval.

A majority of respondents showed approval of how Mike Williams is doing his job as the sheriff of Jacksonville

  • 54% approved
  • 31% disapproved.

The poll also found three leading concerns in the county. 

Crime remained the most important issue facing Jacksonville according to registered voters for the fifth year in a row, at 44%. Education was a distant second, with 13%, followed by downtown redevelopment at 9%.

The polling lab collected 665 completed surveys of registered voters -- 84% by cellphone -- between Oct. 31 and Nov. 4. UNF said the sampling error in the poll is +/- 3.85.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013. She reports for and anchors The Morning Show.