Gov. Jerry Brown's Tax Proposal Slipping in the Polls

Voter blackmail is not a reliable way of garnering support


"Help stop the problem I created in the first place!"

Several polls now show approval starting to dip for California Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30, which would increase income taxes for high earners and sales taxes for everybody to avoid billions in cuts to the state's education budget.

Our Reason-Rupe poll from earlier in October had the proposition barely ahead 50-46 percent (with 4 percent undecided). A new poll by USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times shows only 46 percent in support of the initiative, a drop of nine points in a month. A poll from the Public Policy Institute of California has it at 48 percent.  

In a press conference yesterday, Brown said he still feels Prop. 30's chances are good:

He said "the God's honest truth" about Proposition 30 is, "It's hurt the schools or take a little money from people who can well afford it.

"It's so obvious that it is a little puzzling that the polls aren't a little higher," Brown said. "But they're in the ballpark. We're ahead, and I think from all the internal numbers that I've looked at, this can be won."

"Puzzling," hmmmm? It tends to be difficult to try to guess at what voters do and don't know about the state's political maneuverings. Is it possible that these voters know that Brown is the very reason why the education cuts may happen and that he's essentially trying to blackmail voters into approving tax increases? Is it possible that they know that if Brown had cut out billions from other parts of the state budget rather than education there would be no way in hell voters would approve a tax increase to fill the hole back in? Or maybe it's possible they know that school staffing levels have historically made little difference in quality of education?

There's a part of me that wonders if Brown isn't secretly hoping the initiative fails in order to force public sector unions to really consider pension and benefit reforms. It would brilliantly savvy because Brown gets to shift responsibility for being the "bad guy." But then Occam's Razor kicks in and reminds me that he just signed a bill creating a state-managed pension fund for private-sector employees. Also, the whole high-speed rail thing. Brown is the last person who should find voters' reluctance to approve more taxes "puzzling."

Emily Ekins dissects more information from Reason-Rupe's October poll of California voters here.

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  1. It’s hurt the schools or take a little money from people who can well afford it.

    Yay false choice! Give us more, Jerry! More I say!

    1. But they have been such careful stewards of the public fisc so far?! WHY DO YOU HATE TEH CHILDRENZ?!!11!eleventy!

  2. Brown is just delusional at this point. He sees his system failing miserably but cannot philosophically divorce himself from it.

    1. That’s because he’s the Governor — why he became Governor — how are you going to run California without a government? Are you going to ask the Mungers for permission every time you spend money at a school?

  3. Most politicians just can’t seem to fathom the concept of spending LESS than what they’re currently spending.

    1. Most politicians except Jerry — he is not “most” — I think he’s about the only one with the detachment & courage to have come up with Prop. 30, and I believe Prop. 30 is the only thing that is going to save us… from having to sell ourselves to the Mungers… or to Meg Whitman… Remember the hilarious piece about how the USofA became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft — Bill Gates pronouncing it a “win-win result for all of us” — not so hilarious, that’s what we’re talking about here, Golden State bankruptcy.

  4. It feels great to vote against this one.

    Here’s our chance, California. If we ever get the budget under control of our own accord, it’ll only be becasue we refused to pay more in taxes.

    Starve that fothermuckin’ beast!

    If they will not slash the budget until they have no other choice, then let’s give them no other choice…

    Yes we can!

    1. Solidarity from the deep recesses of Ventura County my good man.

      And although this gives me some glimmer of hope, I know better. This fucking monstrosity will pass, and the can will continue to be kicked.

    2. Agree, I do like being able to vote for stuff that matters on election day.

      I’m trying to convince my friends that things need to get worse before they get better and that we shouldn’t reward scum like Brown and the public sector for holding its own sacred cow hostage to get their money.

    3. Not if you starve it. Until Prop. 30 it looked that way — now we have a chance to save it, Prop. 30 takes from the rich which both they & the rest of us need now.

  5. “If we don’t raise taxes, schools will suffer!”

    “Couldn’t we just cut prison guards, welfare entitlements, CHP overtime, dessert junkets, free Health Care services, prison drug treatment,…”

    “TONY, take that guy out back and put a bullet in the back of his head.”

    1. They all need cutting — but unless we pass Prop. 30 we’ll have no government left to do the cutting. What part of “government” don’t you understand?

  6. Kicked?

    More like filled with cement and thrown at your (taxpayers) heads.

  7. It’s amazing that the unions have convinced their people to vote for a tax increase (Prop 30) and against a pay raise (Prop 32).

    1. Unions can do the math… Times are desperate, we need the money to keep things going, so Jerry can do the reforms — if we go around the government, with Prop 38, we’ll just get in debt deeper without any reforms. That is what Prop 30 is about, fiscal & government reform — our last & best chance at both before insolvency. Yes on 30!

  8. Ok, pet peeve:

    Occam’s Razor was always explained to me not as the law of parsimony but instead as a formalized process of elimination THEN with parsimony,

    i.e. If all other hypothesis, save the remaining one, fail to explain the observations, then the remaining one MUST be the solution, no matter how improbably. When compared to equivalent explanations, the simpler should be favored until greater data fit necessitates a more complex solution.

    Am I the only person who was taught this way?

    1. ohh and just to get it out of the way:



    2. The Real-World Corollary to Occams Razor:

      “The simplest solution to a problem is wrong.”

      Repeat as necessary.

      … Hobbit

    3. Occam also figured out: “There’s no free lunch” — got that from his Razor, when all the cutting was done — that’s what we’re talking about here, with Prop 30. Yes on 30!

  9. even though im more of a liberaltarian, i look forward to voting no on 30/38 and yes on 32. thankfully ill also be able to vote against the death penalty and threes strikes, or else id feel too much like a dirty rethuglican.

    1. I’m yes on 30, no on 32 and no on 38: 30 saves us from insolvency and starts us on fiscal reform — 32 takes power from teachers, the only people in the Ed Establishment worth supporting — 38 sells us to the zillionaires and damages our democracy. Yes on 30!

      1. the problem is they have more than enough funding for important programs. they spend too much on administrators and even teahers.

        32 switches from an unfair opt out program to an opt in program, teachers will still be able to give as much money as they want, they just wont have the money taken out of their paychecks and spent by union bosses.

        im in a community college with over 10,000 enrolled, most of us here shouldnt be in college, there really is room for cuts. if prop 30 went to paying off current spending thats one thing, but they are going to do it to inrease spending where it doesnt need to be increased.

  10. I don’t think Prop 30 is a Straw Man for Brown, no, Scott. This is what you’re saying, as I understand it. But Prop 30 holds up even without the points you make against Brown on tactics and so on — even if someone else were sponsoring and pushing it, Prop 30 still makes good sense. Not 38, which just mortgages California to the Mungers.

    1. actually what he said makes sense, brown decided to cut most of the spending in education and then use this prop to raise revenues, precisely because education is one of those bipartisan things that will win. if he had kept eduation the same and cut some other program, no one would vote to increase taxes for it.

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