Whether it’s a public vote for a Miami Dade College tax, pot for medical purposes or the controversy over new power lines, county voters are at odds with state politicians, a new Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald poll shows.
The most popular issue in the poll, conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International: whether voters should decide the fate of MDC’s push for a half-penny sales-tax increase over five years for renovation and expansion.
Nearly nine in 10 voters — 88 percent — said they should have the right to decide it, a level of support that cuts across every demographic line: race, ethnicity, party and age.
But don’t expect a vote any time soon.
Four state House members banded together in the last lawmaking session to prevent a vote, saying MDC is poor-mouthing to get taxpayers to fork over $1 billion for projects it can already pay for — accusations the college denies.
Rep. Jose Oliva, a Hialeah Republican who’s slated to lead the House in its 2019 session, said he’s not changing his mind.
“Once this gets let loose to referendum, they will raise all sorts of money. They will hire consultants. There will be radio, TV and phone-banking just like a campaign,” said Oliva.
“There is no one but us to advocate on behalf of the taxpayer,” he said. “And the problem I have with that is I would be derelict in my duties because one reason people elected me was so that I’m not taxing them if they do not need to be taxed. In this case, that is what I’m doing.”
Miami Dade College’s provost, Rolando Montoya, said in a written statement that the institution doesn’t have lots of money lying around, that it has been frugal with the money it has and that what appeared to be a large amount of money for various projects — $508 million — was restricted.
Montoya took a measure of comfort from the poll.
“The voters are the heartbeat of the democratic process,” he said. “That the future of MDC is viewed as important to the members of our community will always be greatly appreciated by all of us at the College.”