Prop. 30: Support dips for Brown's tax-hike proposal
SACRAMENTO — Support for Gov. Jerry Brown's plan for billions of dollars in tax hikes on the November ballot is slipping amid public anxiety about how politicians spend money, but voters still favor the proposal, according to a new University of Southern California Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.
The findings suggest that voters are leery of sending more cash to Sacramento in the wake of a financial scandal at the parks department, spiraling costs for a multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project to connect Northern and Southern California and ill-timed legislative pay raises.
Brown's measure would temporarily raise income tax rates on high earners for seven years and boost the state sales tax by a quarter-cent for four years in a bid to avoid steep cuts in funds for schools and other programs.
Fifty-five percent of registered voters say that they back such an increase, a drop from May, when 59 percent of voters supported it. The new poll shows 36 percent of voters opposed, with the remainder undecided.
Views swing widely by political affiliation. Among Democrats, 72 percent favor the proposal. Only 27 percent of Republican voters support it. Sixty-three percent of independent voters approve.
An intense opposition campaign could derail the governor's initiative, Proposition 30. Support drops to 48 percent when voters are presented with arguments they might hear before the Nov. 6 election. Foes of the measure say, for exa ple, that government wastes too much of the money it already has.
"An ongoing debate can make this very close," said Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, one of two groups that conducted the bipartisan poll. The other company, American Viewpoint, is a Republican concern.
The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times poll surveyed 1,504 registered voters by telephone from Sept. 17 to Sept. 23. The margin of error is 2.9 percentage points.
Brown, whose approval rating has dipped 3 points since May to 46 percent, has said the state needs new taxes because budget cuts alone won't solve its financial problems. He's counting on voters like Gerardine Gauch to turn out on election day.
The 60-year-old prison psychologist from Monterey County said California is facing the hard reality that it's no longer a sun-splashed land "where everything goes fine forever."
"When you're growing up, you have to choose what's valuable and what's not," said Gauch, a Democrat. "And you have to pay for what's valuable."
Others are skeptical of Brown's vow to cut almost $6 billion from the budget if taxes don't pass, with public schools taking most of the hit. The threat hasn't budged voters like Anna Carson, a 60-year-old Republican from San Diego.
"They use education as the emotional hook," she said. "It's just baloney."
Tiffany Axene, a 32-year-old Republican from Riverside County, won't support the tax hikes either, even though she has four small children who could be bound for public schools. "I'm just tired of seeing people who make money get taxed and taxed," she said.
Younger Californians are some of Proposition 30's most consistent supporters, with 77 percent of registered voters ages 18 through 29 in favor. Support slides to 47 percent among respondents older than 64. Voters with children of school age or younger fall in between, supporting the measure 59 percent to 35 percent.