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September 9, 2009

TALLAHASSEE – As Congress returns to session today and prepares to tackle hotly-debated topics such as health care reform and climate change, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) today released results from a poll gauging Floridians’ attitudes toward these issues.  Slightly more than half of Florida voters (51 percent) oppose health care reforms proposed by President Obama, mirroring the results of a national poll recently released by ABC News/Washington Post.  An overwhelming 83 percent of voters polled expressed concern that federal economic stimulus packages and the proposal to reform health care could raise taxes and increase national debt.   

“The debate over health care reform has been punctuated by boisterous town hall meetings and partisan politics so it’s important we don’t lose sight of what’s really key here – people simply aren’t in favor of ‘Obamacare,’” said Barney Bishop III, President and CEO of AIF.  “Pulling money out of Americans’ pockets or adding to our trillion and a half dollar national deficit to fund this experiment is irresponsible and not what the people of this country want.”

Also in the national spotlight are federal “cap and trade” proposals and policies to address the nation’s energy needs.  According to the AIF poll results, three of four Florida voters (75 percent) say drilling for oil and natural gas should be allowed off Florida’s coasts.  When asked about energy issues, more than a third of respondents (34 percent) cited energy affordability as being most important to them; up from 30 percent last year.  Additionally, the percent of Floridians who rated energy’s impact on the environment as their top concern dropped from 17 percent last year to 12 percent this year. 

“People want to know that they’re going to have access to and can afford the fuels that power their homes, their cars and their lives.  Proposals like the federal cap-and-trade bill do nothing but increase taxes on American businesses and consumers at a time when China, India and Brazil refuse to be part of the solution for greenhouse gas emissions,” added Bishop.  “And, with a special session possible next month, the state has a real opportunity here to pass legislation that will enable us to increase our fuel supplies by drilling in Florida waters.  With public support behind this movement, along with the support of the business community and some real champions in the Legislature, we could see positive outcomes this fall or spring if it’s addressed during the regular session.”

Floridians’ opinions on the country’s and state’s direction remain dour.  A majority of voters polled (56 percent) believe the country is on the wrong track and a nearly identical percent (55 percent) also believe the state in on the wrong track.  The percentage of respondents believing Florida is on the wrong track is among the highest it has been since AIF began polling this question in 1994.  In addition, the percentage of voters who believe Florida is going in the right direction is the lowest it has ever been – 28 percent – since 1994. 

Conducted by McLaughlin & Associates in mid-August, the poll surveyed by telephone 600 randomly-selected likely general election voters throughout Florida.  It has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval.

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