NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As a battle looms over recent proposals by Democratic leaders in the state Legislature, public opinion has taken sides on the issues of pension payments and the minimum wage in New Jersey, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
Registered voters are more in favor than opposed to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require the state to make yearly payments to the public employee pension system. When the pros and cons of mandated regular payments are explained, a 49 percent plurality supports the plan. Forty percent say they would oppose it, however, and 11 percent are unsure.
But voters do not want to fund regular payments if it means higher taxes or making cuts elsewhere in the budget: 77 percent oppose the former and 54 percent oppose the latter as ways to fund the pension system.Sixty-two percent of voters would prefer state workers contribute more toward their own pensions. Sixty-eight percent wish to see cost-saving reforms made to public employee health benefits, something already put forth by Gov. Chris Christie and his bipartisan commission.
A millionaire’s tax also is a popular funding method with voters: 71 percent support increasing taxes on the wealthiest New Jerseyans in order to make regular pension payments.
“Details play a crucial role in voter responses to these issues,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “Voters are more likely than not to favor mandated pension payments, but they do not want to pay for it themselves.”
A proposal to increase the minimum wage in New Jersey gets much more support than the pension payment amendment. Seventy-three percent of voters support the plan proposed by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney and state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, which would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next several years. Twenty-five percent oppose it, and 2 percent are unsure.
“Voters have always strongly favored minimum wage increases in New Jersey,” said Koning. “This time is no different despite the proposed hourly jump from $8.38 to $15 – most likely because voters were explicitly told that the increase would be gradual.”
Sweeney, who most expect to run for governor in 2017, has been a guiding force for both the minimum wage and pension proposal, but over half of voters in the Garden State have no opinion of him or do not know who he is. Another 27 percent have a favorable impression of Sweeney, while 19 percent have an unfavorable one.
Results are from a statewide poll of 801 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 18 to 23, 2016, including 710 registered voters reported on in this release. The registered voter sample has a margin of error of +/-3.8 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish. To read the entire poll, click here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: ATTENTION POLITICAL, ASSIGNMENT EDITORS, Poll Assistant Director Ashley Koning may be contacted at 908-872-1186 (cell), 848-932-8940 (office), or firstname.lastname@example.org. Poll Director David Redlawsk may be reached at 319-400-1134 (cell) or email@example.com. Questions and tables are available at: http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu/rutgers-eagleton-pension-minimum-wage-Fe.... Find all releases at http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu, and visit our blog at http://eagletonpollblog.wordpress.com for additional commentary. Follow the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RutgersEagletonPoll and Twitter @EagletonPoll.