California Voters to Gov. Brown: Stop Yanking Us Around


Take a note: Voters apparently have a dim view of being coerced into raising taxes.

Like the blonde chick in a slasher film: pretty and doomed.

A Field Poll of California voters finds that a majority of them – both Democratic and Republican – do not like the way Gov. Jerry Brown is triggering cuts to education in the fall if a tax initiative fails to pass in November. Via the Associated Press:

Nearly three-quarters of California voters oppose the automatic, midyear spending reductions that would balance the state budget if a November ballot initiative to raise taxes fails, according to a new Field Poll.

Seventy-two percent of registered voters, including wide majorities of Democrats and Republicans, oppose the measure, a central part of California's recently enacted budget, according to the poll.

The budget relies on $8.5 billion in revenue from Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners, and it threatens to cut education spending if the initiative fails.

Opposition to the so-called "trigger cuts" is greatest among Democrats—79 percent—but 68 percent of independent voters and 65 percent of Republicans also oppose it, according to the poll.

The reason, poll director Mark DiCamillo explains, is because education spending in California is actually popular. That Brown triggered the cuts specifically to foster grudging support of the tax increase seems fairly apparent to voters.

Less apparent to voters is the problem of California's growing budget deficit: According to the Field Poll, 37 percent of voters say Brown's budget cuts go too far, up from 27 percent last year (even though, if the tax passes, education funding will be increased (pdf) by 14 percent). Take a load of this final quote, which perfectly encapsulates this struggle in a nutshell:

Among those worried for the state is Mary Hildebrand, a retired elementary school teacher from Manteca. The 80-year-old Republican opposes raising taxes, but she also opposes the use of trigger cuts. "I don't see what can be cut, either," she said. "We hired people to figure those things out. They should be working on it."

Don't raise taxes but don't cut anything. What happened to those people we hired to figure out how to fix the deficit without raising taxes or cutting anything (like my pension)? Where are those smart government elites who will figure it all out for us?

Another Field Poll question takes a look at whether Brown's high-speed rail proposal (initial bonds for which may be voted on tomorrow) threatens the passage of the tax increase. The answer is: yes. Via The Sacramento Bee:

A fifth of likely voters who support Brown's proposal to raise taxes say they would be less likely to support it if the Legislature appropriates money for high-speed rail, the Field Poll found.

Lawmakers are expected to act on the $68 billion project today or Friday. Fifty-six percent of likely voters oppose the project, according to the poll.

"Here you have an unpopular, multibillion-dollar long-term project kind of rearing its head in the middle of this budget-cutting," poll director Mark DiCamillo said. "It undercuts that whole message, and that's really what's jeopardizing the Brown measure."

As I've mentioned before, the attack ads against the tax increase are going to be brutal come the fall if that train is funded. I've been looking to see if there is any growing will out there to try to recall Gov. Brown as yet, but the most I've discovered are a couple of Facebook pages with not that many likes.