TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A majority of Florida voters say they're optimistic about the next four years with Republican Rick Scott as governor, a poll released Wednesday shows.
The Quinnipiac (Conn.) University survey showed 56 percent said they were generally optimistic about the state's future compared to 29 percent who described themselves as pessimistic. However, 43 percent said they were undecided about Scott, who was in office just three weeks when pollsters began their weeklong survey.
More than 9 of 10 Floridians consider the state's budget problems as serious, including 64 percent who labeled them "very serious" and they favored increased gambling by a 56-39 margin to help reduce the deficit.
Despite those budget concerns, half of those polled said they favored Scott's proposal to cut property and business taxes by about $2 billion.
Nearly two-thirds said they agree with Scott's decision to have state employees contribute to their pensions. Scott said Tuesday he wants state workers, teachers and many local government employees to contribute 5 percent of their salaries to the Florida Retirement System. Florida is the only state that does not require some of its employees to contribute to their retirement. Scott said the proposal would save $2.8 billion over two years.
Fifty-two percent of those polled said they preferred cutting government services to raising taxes to meet the budget shortfall, compared to 34 percent who felt otherwise.
Scott, a multimillionaire former health care executive from Naples, jarred the Florida political world last year when he rocketed from virtual anonymity to defeat a pair of better known state cabinet officials on his way to become the state's 45th governor. He took office Jan. 3.
Scott has been criticized by the state's media for being less accessible than his predecessors, Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist.
But nearly three in five voters (58 percent) said they thought the new governor was accessible enough while just over one in five (22 percent) said Scott was not accessible enough.
Republicans and independents supported the new governor 52 percent to 11 percent while Democrats disapproved of his job performance 39 percent to 18 percent.
Quinnipiac said its random survey of 1,160 registered voters by land lines and cell phones carried a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.