A majority of Floridians are increasingly pessimistic about the future of the state and agree with Gov. Rick Scott's focus on wasteful spending and jobs, according to a new poll commissioned by Leadership Florida.
But they disagree with him that tax cuts and immigration reform are the solution, and believe that the state's business and elected leaders rarely have the state's best interest at heart, according to the survey of 1,220 Floridians between Jan. 3 and 16 by Nielsen Co.
Forty five percent of respondents said the state is in worse shape than five years ago or is getting worse. No surprise there, since five years ago Florida was at the peak of its real estate bubble and the economy hadn't tanked. What is surprising is the response they had to years of job creation efforts by everyone from local officials to the state Legislature and Cabinet: 55 percent said the state is doing a poor job creating jobs.
That's either going to be music to the ears of the "Let's Get to Work" governor or a warning that Floridians are terribly impatient, said John Streitmatter, chairman of Leadership Florida, the nonprofit leadership training organization created by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
"Because Gov. Rick Scott has identified job creation as his top priority and Floridians say it is their top priority as well, these survey results would seem to indicate an opportunity for him," Streitmatter said in a statement. "At the same time, Floridians have told us they are also very impatient with all levels of government right now, which means that today's challenge could very quickly turn into tomorrow's disappointment for the governor and the people."
Some numbers from the survey
• 45 percent say the state is worse off than five years ago while 65 percent say things will stay the same or get worse.
• 52 percent identify jobs and the economy as the most important issues facing the state.
• 55 percent say the state is doing poorly at creating new jobs, the highest number since Leadership Florida began its tracking poll in 2008.
• 3 percent of Floridians believe tax relief should be Scott's top priority. Only 1 percent of Floridians say the same thing about immigration reform.
• 21 percent of Floridians now say they are seriously considering moving out of the state, up from 17 percent just one year ago.
• 65 percent of Floridians say their state government spends tax revenue in a relatively wasteful manner, up from 54 percent in 2010 and 45 percent in 2008.
• 52 percent of Floridians support firing ineffective teachers.
• 69 percent of Floridians believe community business leaders do what is right for the state only "some of the time" or "never." Meanwhile, 71 percent, 77 percent and 77 percent say the same thing about their local, state and federal government leaders respectively.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: The percentage of people who believe Florida is in worse shape than it was five years ago is 45 percent, according to a recent Leadership Florida poll. A story Tuesday gave an incorrect percentage.