TALLAHASSEE — Most Floridians would support tax increases for public schools and health and human services, finds a poll released Wednesday by the Pew Center on the States.
The poll also highlights some unrealistic attitudes about what to tax.
The independent Washington think tank conducted telephone surveys on budget issues in five states ranked as the most fiscally stressed — Florida, California, New York, Illinois and Arizona.
It found that 70 percent of the Floridians polled would be willing to pay higher taxes to maintain current funding for kindergarten through 12th grade schools.
Florida Education Association President Andy Ford said that's unlikely to happen. The statewide teachers union last year proposed raising the 6 cents per dollar sales tax by a penny for three years to prevent school spending cuts, but lawmakers quickly rejected that idea.
The Florida survey also shows 54 percent support raising taxes to maintain funding for health and human services.
Floridians are almost evenly split on raising taxes for universities and colleges — 49 percent yes, 50 percent no — but most were unwilling to pay more for prisons, highways and other transportation programs.
State economists say Florida can expect a $828 million to $2.5 billion gap between general revenue and spending deemed critical to high priority in the budget year starting July 1. Here are other Florida poll findings:
alcohol and cigarettes: 69 percent favor raising these taxes, despite recent increases in both.
Gambling: 57 percent support an expansion of gaming.
Preferred TAXes: 42 percent prefer an increase in corporate taxes; 27 percent back over broadening the sales tax to purchases made over the Internet; 22 percent support taxing to now-exempt products. The report notes that corporate tax provides 10 percent of general revenue, while sales tax provides 66 percent.
FAT: 66 percent think government could spend less and still maintain the same level of services. But the report notes general revenue spending has been reduced by 10 percent over the past two years.