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California Voters Want Spending Cuts, Tax Increases To Curb Budget Deficit

Benjamin Gottlieb |
April 25, 2011 | 12:02 p.m. PDT

Senior News Editor

Gov. Jerry Brown supports a special election, but faces staunch criticism from his supporters (Photo via Creative Commons).
Gov. Jerry Brown supports a special election, but faces staunch criticism from his supporters (Photo via Creative Commons).
Californian voters said they would support a special election to increase both taxes and spending cuts to deal with the state's budgetary crisis, according to a recent USC Dornsife/L.A. Times poll.

In a survey of more than 1,500 voters, 53 percent said they prefer a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to surmount the state’s budget deficit. 

“The most important thing that comes out of this poll is that Californians want to vote on this resolution,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll. “Californian voters would be very unhappy if they were not given a chance to weigh in.”

Support for the special election was highest among Democratic voters, 60 percent of whom believe that spending cuts must be coupled with tax increases to ease the state's budget woes. Forty-two percent of Republican voters and 56 percent of voters registered "decline-to-state" also were in favor of the idea. 

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan - which would address California’s $26 billion deficit by way of $14 billion from increasing taxes and $12 billion in spending cuts – was favored by 52 percent those surveyed, with 38 percent opposing the idea.

Stanley Greenberg of the firm Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner lauded the governor’s accomplishment of cultivating support for his budgetary plan.

“He’s moved the state to where he is on the budget issues,” Greenberg said of Brown. “They want it to happen by a referendum which Brown is in favor of… a balance of tax cuts and spending.”

However, a striking 40 percent of Californians surveyed said they did not know the specifics of Brown’s budget plan. 

In addition to calling for special election, Brown's plan includes major cuts to almost every sector of government: health care, higher education, public safety, state employee salaries and welfare services.

K-12 education was left out of Brown’s budget proposal.

While the majority of Californians don’t understand the specifics, Schnur said they do understand the severity of the state’s financial situation.

“They are willing to make the difficult and uncomfortable compromises,” Schnur said. "It seems that voters are ahead of their elected officials.”

Despite voter desire for a special election, Schnur said the decision is ultimately up to the governor.

“Common speculation says November or September,” Schnur said, in reference to the dates of a possible special election. “That’s the best guess we can make from this perspective. What we do know is that the governor is under pressure from the voters… [they] would be very unhappy to not see a special election.”

Click here to view the full results of the USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Poll.


To reach Benjamin Gottlieb, click here.

Follow him on Twitter @benjamin_max.



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