Quinnipiac: N.J. voters back local government mergers, oppose gas tax hike

Nearly two-thirds of New Jersey voters, from every political spectrum and from ever region of the state, support merging local governments and school districts to reduce property taxes, 65%-28%, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

"Policy wonks always favor the idea of merging municipalities and school districts. As property taxes soar, more and more voters agree," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The devil, of course, is in the details. Let's see how many New Jersey politicians are willing to vote themselves or their friends out of a job."

New Jerseyans narrowly, 51%-43%, back state worker layoffs and furloughs to balance the budget. The idea is opposed by Democrats (36%-56%) and supported by Republicans (60%-34%); independents support layoffs and furloughs of state employees by a 58%-37% margin.

But by a wide 69%-25% margin, voters want state employees to contribute more toward their health care benefits. Even Democrats, by a 67%-28% margin, agree.

By a 61%-36% margin, voters oppose an increase in the gas tax to pay for road and mass transit improvements, and they oppose, by a 61%-35% margin, extending the sales tax to include legal fees and shore house rentals.

"Broaden the sales tax to include things such as lawyer's fees and seashore rentals? No way, say three fifths of New Jerseyans. Raise gasoline taxes as independent Christopher Daggett suggested in the first governor's debate? No way, again by more than 60 percent," Carroll says.

Voters are split 44%-46% on a question about teacher unions playing a positive or negative role. Democrats say its positive (58%-29%), Republicans (57%-34%) and independents (56%-36%) say negative.

"Are teacher unions a positive or negative? Voters are divided. But they'd like to do a couple of things that the union opposes – put in merit pay for good teachers and make it easier to fire bad teachers," said Carroll.

New Jerseyans support merit pay increases for good teachers (70%-27%), support making it easier to fire a bad teacher (67%-28%), oppose school vouchers (52%-46%), and oppose charter schools (49%-42%).

"Voters don't much like charter schools or school vouchers," Carroll said.

Quinnipiac University polled 1,264 New Jersey likely voters between October 7-12, with a margin of error of +/- 2%. Quinnipiac: N.J. voters back local government mergers, oppose gas tax hike