Sixty-five percent (65%) of New Jersey voters favor a one-year pay freeze on the salaries of administrators, teachers and school workers to reduce the state’s level of local school aid, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey.
Just 28% of voters in the state oppose this pay freeze to meet Governor Chris Christie’s proposed $820 million reduction in school aid. The newly-elected Republican governor is proposing the reduction as part of his effort to close the state’s $11 billion budget deficit.
The state teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), is angrily opposing the proposed pay freeze, saying it will set back education efforts. But 66% of New Jersey voters say the union is more interested in protecting its members’ jobs than in the quality of education. Twenty-four percent (24%) believe the union places the quality of education first.
Fifty-two percent (52%) think public employee unions like the NJEA put a significant strain on the state’s budget. Twenty-eight percent (28%) disagree, while another 20% are not sure.
It’s clear, too, that New Jersey voters are following the budget spat between the new governor and the teachers’ union. Ninety percent (90%) of voters in the state say they have been following news reports about it at least somewhat closely, including 55% who are following very closely.
Male voters in the state are slightly more supportive of the pay freeze than women are. Voters 40 and older are much more strongly in favor of the pay freeze than younger adults.
Seventy-one percent (51%) of white voters favor it, while 59% of African-Americans are opposed. Those without children in the home are slightly more supportive of the pay freeze than those who have children living with them.
Eighty-four percent (84%) of Republican voters in the state and 75% of voters not affiliated with either major party support the pay freeze. Democrats are almost evenly divided on the question.
Given the teachers’ union’s consistent support for Democratic candidates, it’s perhaps surprising to find that a slim majority (51%) of Democrats in New Jersey think the union is more interested in protecting its members than in the quality of education. Less surprising are the findings that Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly agree with that notion.
Solid majorities of Republicans and unaffiliated voters also believe that public employee unions are a significant strain on the state budget, Democrats are fairly evenly divided on that question.
Two-thirds of adults with children in the home and those without children agree that the teacher’s union is more interested in protecting its members. Just 47% of those with children in the home agree.
Fifty-one percent (51%) of voters in New Jersey, a state Barack Obama carried handily in 2008, now favor repeal of the recently-passed national health care bill. But support for repeal is lower in New Jersey than it is nationally.
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