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Jacksonville Democratic Party Says 'No' To Pension Tax During Northside Rally

Cyd Hoskinson
Democrats gather to discus Aug. 30 ballot items. Senator Audrey Gibson (from left), former state Senator Tony Hill, and Duval County Democratic Party Chair Neil Henrichsen.

Jacksonville Democrats gathered in a vacant lot on the city’s Northside this morning to express their disdain for the pension tax referendum on Duval County’s August primary ballot.

A “yes” vote would pave the way for extending a half-cent sales tax beyond its expiration in 2030 to help offset the city’s $2.6-billion pension debt.

But a new Duval County Democratic Party resolution is urging voters to reject the referendum. Chairman Neil Henrichsen said the chapter is fully behind the employees.

“The police, firefighters and other government workers, we believe their pension obligation should be honored," he said. "But this is the wrong way to do it. We urge all Democrats and citizens of the county to take a 'no' position.”

Among the reasons the party opposes the sales tax is the belief that it will disproportionately affect poor residents. 

But not all Democrats agree.  Former mayor and current City Councilman Tommy Hazouri

Credit Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT
Surrounded by pension tax referendum opponents and the media, Democratic City Councilman Tommy Hazouri outlines why he's voting for the referendum.

  showed up to support the referendum.

“Those who are opposed to it are selfish about the future of this city, and I think they’re wrong in the decision they made here today," he said. "And I will stand by Lenny Curry or anyone else independent, Republican or Democrat, who support this issue.”

In order for the tax to kick in, at least one of the city’s three pension funds would have to close to new members.