NEW: Mayor Taveras has 60 Percent Approval in Providence, Poll Finds
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Despite 86 percent of Providence voters saying they do not believe the city is recovering well from the recession, Mayor Angel Taveras has increased his approval rating to 60 percent, according to a Brown University poll released this morning.
The poll surveyed 425 Providence voters, 85.9 percent of which believe the city’s budget problems are very serious or somewhat serious.
Providence voters were divided about other ways to address pension liability. They were split on raising the retirement age for city workers (45.9 percent support/43.8 percent oppose) and raising co-pays for health insurance (42.4 percent support/46.1 oppose). Eliminating cost-of-living adjustments for city pensions received slightly more support from voters (48.5 percent support/35.1 percent oppose).
Voters were also queried about the pension liability deal that Mayor Angel Taveras, public safety retirees, and the city’s three major unions made in June. The agreement would lower pension costs by reducing benefits promised to retirees and current workers. City officials have said that these changes have allowed Providence to avoid bankruptcy. Under the agreement, the city would cap all pensions, suspend cost-of-living adjustments for 11 years, and eliminate the five and six percent compounded cost-of-living adjustments. Almost 45 percent of voters were satisfied with the agreement, 20.5 percent were dissatisfied, and 23.8 percent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
Voters were also asked about the Central Falls bankruptcy, which allowed the city to force public safety unions to the bargaining table to negotiate changes in the city’s retirement obligations. When asked if they thought bankruptcy is a legitimate tool for local government to resolve pension liability issues, 48.0 percent of voters agreed and 37.2 percent disagreed.
On a personal level, only 22.5 percent of voters said that their own financial situation was better than a year ago. Nearly a third (31.2 percent) said their financial position was about the same and a similar number (30.5) said they were worse off than a year ago. However, Providence voters expressed optimism about their future finances, with just 6.4 percent predicting that they would be worse off a year from now. A large majority (78 percent) expected that their finances would either improve (34 percent) or stay the same (44 percent).
Providence voters expressed much less optimism when asked about their own retirement. Asked if they would be able to maintain their current quality of life in retirement, just 11.1 percent were very confident that they would, while 29.7 percent were not confident, and nearly the same number (29.6 percent) were unsure either way. When asked whether the primary responsibility for preparing for retirement rests with the worker, the employer, or both equally, a large majority (70.1 percent) felt that the employers and workers are equally responsible.
Overall, Providence voters gave high marks to a number of city services including garbage collection (82.8 percent satisfied/very satisfied), fire and ambulance service (85.9 percent satisfied/very satisfied), neighborhood parks (71.1 percent satisfied/very satisfied), and police (64.9 percent satisfied/very satisfied). Providence voters gave low scores for upkeep of roads (58.8 percent dissatisfied/very dissatisfied) and were split about the quality of public schools, with 36.1 percent expressing satisfaction and 36.9 percent dissatisfied.
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