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Poll: Floridians skeptical of government, amendments

Floridians are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with government leaders at the federal, state and local level, according to a poll of nearly 1,500 people around the state.

Most Floridians think government leaders are doing a “fair” or “poor” job compared to leaders at businesses or non-profits, the Leadership Florida survey shows.

Leadership Florida—which encourages and promotes community leadership in Florida--- used information gathering company Nielson to conduct the annual Sunshine State Survey between July 28 and Sept. 4.

Here are some highlights.

• 75 percent rate the performance of federal government as “fair” or “poor.”
• 71 percent rate the performance of state government as “fair” or “poor.”
• 65 percent rate the performance of local government as “fair” or “poor.”

The survey also revealed that many Floridians are skeptical of the amendments on the state ballot.

• 75 percent believe the amendments on the state ballot are confusing.
• 54 percent believe the constitutional amendments that are on the state ballot shouldn’t be there.
• 74 percent believe well-financed interest groups play a larger role in getting amendments on the ballot than citizens banding together.
• 51 percent believe they do not have enough information to vote on the amendments.

“Floridians are becoming more critical of the state’s amendment process, seeing it as dominated by special interests, said Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida. They are also extremely frustrated with the wording of the amendments and struggle to get clarity on the pros and cons of each.”

Here are some other statewide facts and trends.

• Just 4 percent of Floridians think tax relief should be the top priority of Gov. Rick Scott.
• 52 percent of Floridians say to get rid of ineffective teachers.
• 6 percent of Floridians have been in the state less than five years, showing a trend of people staying in the state longer.
• 55 percent of Floridians say the state government spends tax revenue in a relatively wasteful manner, down from 65 percent in 2011 and 54 percent in 2010.
• 45 percent of Floridians say their local government spends tax revenue in a relatively wasteful manner, down from 55 percent in 2011 and 45 percent in 2010.
• 41 percent  of Floridians say Florida’s state economic development agencies should put greater emphasis on retaining existing businesses and jobs, up 2 percent from last year, compared to the 47 percent that believe they should attract new businesses and jobs, down 2 percent from 2011.
• 18 percent of Floridians report being on either Medicaid, unemployment benefits, SSI disability, food stamps, AFDA housing assistance, or transportation assistance.
• 87 percent report having internet in their homes.
• 40 percent believe the biggest threat to Florida’s economy is job loss, unemployment, 17 percent believe the biggest threat is foreclosures, 16 percent believe the biggest threat is government waste.