Floridians favor allowing trained staff to carry firearms in public schools and oppose supporting study abroad programs in countries with known terrorist activity, according to the 2016 USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey.
In addition, the majority of Florida adults agree the state would be going in the right direction by requiring elementary schools to have 20 minutes of daily recess, increasing the smoking age from 18 to 21 and imposing heavier fines for texting while driving.
The findings released Tuesday by Distinguished University Professor Susan MacManus at the University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences cover Floridians’ opinions about education, transportation, health and recreation.
“Reaching consensus on emerging public concerns has been easier to reach on some issues than others. There’s consensus among survey respondents on four issues – requiring elementary schools to give students a 20-minute recess daily, imposing heavier fines on those who text while driving, prohibiting use of government funds to renovate privately-owned sports facilities, and withdrawing support of university study abroad programs in countries with known terrorist activity,” MacManus said. “But Floridians are more divided on other issues related to individual behavior including gun use training, smoking, sports gambling and transportation issues such as road tolls and ways to improve traffic flows.”
- Allowing Trained Staff to Carry Firearms at Public Schools – More Floridians support allowing trained staff to carry firearms with 35 percent that “strongly favor” and 21 percent in “favor” as compared to 29 percent that “strongly oppose” and 11 percent that “oppose.” Stronger supporters are males, working-age residents, whites, those living in affluent households, college graduates, and residents of the Orlando and North Florida areas.
- Supporting Study Abroad Programs in Countries with Terrorist Activity – Floridians agree (76 percent) that universities should not support study abroad programs in countries with known terrorist activity. Those more supportive are younger Floridians, Hispanics, African-Americans, and residents of the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach areas.
- State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Requiring Elementary Schools to Have 20 Minutes of Recess Daily – More than 80 percent of Floridians believe ordering elementary schools to have 20 minutes of recess daily is moving in the “right direction.” Only 5 percent opposed and 14 percent did not express an opinion.
- State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Creating More Urban Highway Toll Lanes – The change is seen as going in the “right direction” by 30 percent of Floridians while 20 percent have no opinion. The most opposition to creating more urban highway toll lanes came from older Floridians, Hispanics, and mid-income households.
- Improving Traffic Flow – Synchronization of traffic lights identified as the top priority in improving traffic flow (40 percent) followed by building more lanes (23 percent). Improving the bus system was preferred by 14 percent and building light rail was 13 percent with light rail favored by residents of the Tampa Bay, Orlando, and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale areas.
- State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Imposing Heavier Fines for Texting When Driving – The vast majority (87 percent) of Florida adults view imposing heavier fines for texting while driving as moving the state in the “right direction” and only 7 percent see it going in the “wrong direction.”
- State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Banning Use of Smokeless Tobacco and E-Cigarettes in Public Places – More than half (54 percent) of Florida adults see the state going in the “right direction” by banning use of smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes in smoke-free public places. Highest “wrong direction” ratings came from males, retirement-age Floridians, and Hispanics.
- State Going in Right/Wrong Direction Increasing Smoking Age from 18 to 21 – More Floridians (57 percent) see increasing the smoking age to 21 as a move in the “right direction” compared to 22 percent as seeing the state moving in the “wrong direction.” Females, mid-income households, and Floridians with some college education most likely to support.
- State Performance Ensuring Safe Drinking Water – More than half (52 percent) of the state’s population gives the state either “good” or “excellent” marks for ensuring safe drinking water. Only 17 percent rate as “poor” and 28 percent rate as “fair.”