Golden State’s Future a Little More Golden But Still Work to Do, Recent Poll Says

Although Californians view their governor, their Legislature and their future more positively, there’s still some changes they would like to see in how state government operates, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released December 5.

The poll of 2,001 adults – 1,025 likely voters – found two-thirds or more of respondents supporting an annual cap on state spending, boosting the size of the state’s reserve account and requiring policymakers to identify funding sources for any new programs.

Broad majorities also back more disclosure of contributions to initiative campaigns and renewal of initiative by voters after a certain number of years – 86 percent and 66 percent of likely voter, respectively.

At the same time, voters strongly oppose increasing vehicle license fees – 78 percent to 20 percent among likely voters – which was reduced by GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 and now costs the state north of $6 billion annually in lost revenue.

Almost as unpopular is expanding the sales tax base to include services such as accounting or dry cleaning. The survey found 68 percent of likely voters oppose the idea, although that number might fall if the question asked included the possibility the overall sales tax rate would likely decline as a result.

The record high level of opposition to those two potential tax boosts may stem, in part, from “buyer’s remorse” over voter approval in November of Proposition 30, which increases taxes on Californians earning $250,000 or more, retroactive to January 2012, for seven years and bumps up the sales tax one-quarter of 1 percent for four years.

Or if not “buyer’s remorse” then a feeling of “we’ve already given, thanks.”

Forty-=six percent of likely voters said they felt more optimistic about the state’s seemingly chronic in-the-red budget. Overall, 28 percent of likely voters said passing of the measure makes them more pessimistic.

Only 22 percent of Republicans said Proposition 30’s new revenue makes them more confident about solving the state’s budgetary issues while 48 percent and 66 percent of Democrats said passing the proposition made them more optimistic.

Despite that optimism, 68 percent of the poll’s total respondents call the budget mess a “big problem.”

The poll gave Gov. Jerry Brown a record high approval rating of 49 percent among likely voters  – up from his previous high of 46 percent in January. The change in voter approval of the Democratic governor falls within the poll’s 4 percentage points, plus or minus, margin of error.

Similarly, voters gave higher marks to the Legislature but still only a 26 percent approval rating among likely voters with 61 percent unhappy with lawmakers’ performance. Among all respondents, 34 percent liked what the Legislature was doing – the first time since January 2008 the poll has show an approval rating for legislators of more than 30 percent.

Of the poll’s total number of respondents, 44 percent said California is generally going in the right direction.

That’s the highest level since June 2007 and 30 points above the low of 14 percent recorded in July 2009.


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