LAT/USC Poll: Californians Oppose Cuts Only Budget

Governor Brown has been making the case for a vote on extending the sales taxes since January.  It’s not had much effect on the Republicans in the Legislature, but it does seem to making some headway with the people:

California voters agree with Gov. Jerry Brown that tax increases should help close the state budget deficit, and they want to vote on his plan for raising the revenue, according to a new Times/USC Dornsife poll. …

Sixty percent of those surveyed, including majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, said they back such an election. The alternative being pushed by most GOP lawmakers – forgoing an election and balancing the budget by cutting more from state services – was supported by just 33%.

You can view the full poll here, but there is some really interesting information.  It might drive pretty much any politically interested person crazy as much of it is wildly conflicting, but that’s kind of what you get when you ask questions that drop nuance in favor of simplicity.  Not that there is anything wrong with this poll, but asking questions that really focus on values is more of an art than a science.

The bold face numbers aren’t so bad, with only 25% of voters preferring a cuts only budget when they find out that such a budget would require cuts to K12 education.  Later on down the line you see that when asked if they support a state budget cap at the rate of inflation, a pretty strong majority supports it.  Of course, the fact that a budget that only increased at that rate would require some pretty heavy cuts due to population growth didn’t come up.  Oh…and we still have outstanding debt that has to be paid at some point.

This really does reflect the bigger problem of a system of governance with no real leader.  There isn’t anything wrong with the Governor, it is just that the system is designed to fail.  The elected leaders are subject to the whim of the initiative system, a process that favors feel-good slogans over sound policy.  For now, we have to deal with it, as Republicans are increasingly recalcitrant.  But, this is really no way to run one of the world’s largest economies.

After all, what it comes down to is that Californians want their cake, and they want to eat it too.  They want their two Santas, one to give them stuff, one to cut their taxes. While there are these competing visions (one of which, the Laffer-curve mania, has never been shown to work for anybody but the rich), we really can’t be surprised with these type of results. After all, the Republicans have been telling everybody that they can get something for nothing for years.

If we can get it on the ballot, a focused campaign can pass revenues, of that I am confident.  My certainty doesn’t extend much past that.

9 thoughts on “LAT/USC Poll: Californians Oppose Cuts Only Budget”

  1. It’s pretty discouraging that there’s no effort to defeat Beth Gaines.  I don’t live in the 4th Assembly District, but I guess it’s not worth trying.  Students at Sac State have been protesting and having sit-ins, it seems like the faculty association could have encouraged phone banking and precinct walking instead.  State employee unions don’t seem to be encouraging any effort.  I couldn’t find “Campanale Phone Bank” on the convention schedule.  Oh well.

  2. somewhere past horrific to legally impossible.

    In some districts, cuts have already gone about as far as they can legally go. You can only put so many kids in a classroom before the fire marshall starts knocking on your door with a friendly but concerned smile.

    State cuts to general K-12 education funds are at 11% from the high water mark of 2007, and categorical programs have been cut 20%. The feds have backfilled some of this money, but that won’t happen again.

    Schools were told to plan for cuts of $349 per student as a worst case; now, that is apparently the best case and the worst case may see cuts of $825. School Services of California estimates that a cut of that magnitude may cause between 150 and 300 districts to apply for emergency loans from the state.

    In addition to these cuts, understand, the state has been deferring payments to schools. At first it was just one month, sliding payments from one fiscal year to another to get the legislature’s budget to balance. But, that trick only works once, and the deferrals are getting larger and longer. Schools are owed a total of $7.4 billion in deferred payments this fiscal year. A district may have money in its books but not enough cash on hand to pay its bills, and this may happen sooner rather than later.

    An all-cuts budget, especially at this late date, would have to come with substantial regulatory changes. For example, it’s actually been proposed to shorten the school year by a month. (The mandatory minimum was shortened by a week for 2010-2011 already.)

    The irony of such cuts is that they’re not actually savings; instead, it’s shifting costs from the state back to families. If you’ve priced a month of day camp or day care recently, you’d realize school is a bargain.

  3. Somebody HAS to CIRCULATE Petitions for an election

    REPUBLICANS WILL NOT Help to put Tax Extensions on the Ballot

    It HAS TO BE Democrats, only and the Only way to do it is by petitions for a ballot initiative

    Polls are meaningless if the voters Can’t Vote on the issues

    Is Jerry Brown morphing into Barack Surrrender Obama ?

  4. In some cases to the 2/3rds needed to override the superminority!  Wouldn’t that be something…  Watch them howl…

  5. The problem with these polls is that while few want an all cuts budget, a similar “few” seem to support particular tax increases that effect them personally.  Moreover, that same enlightened group of poll responders are all for lowering existing pension payouts notwithstanding the extraordinary, if not impossible, legal issues involved.  

    How to balance a “systemic” budget problem is simply not a question (or rather, a series of questions) that should be put before the same electorate who approved the seemingly “free money” bond propositions in the past but declined a $18 (or $19?) DMV surcharge on their vehicle license renewals for the parks last November.  

    Admittedly, I am a fiscal conservative… but I think you vastly misjudge the “taxpaying” public’s mood.  

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