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61% of California Voters Want Taxes As Part of Budget Solution

by: Robert Cruickshank

Tue Mar 02, 2010 at 10:01:12 AM PST


The Field Poll is out with a new look at Californians' attitudes on the state budget crisis. The results are being reported as "Californians prefer spending cuts, not taxes" as a way to solve the budget deficit. And even though that headline misstates what is in the poll, the bigger issue is the general and vague nature of the poll itself.

Here's what Field asked:

California lawmakers face a deep budget deficit again next year, with a gap that may reach $20 billion between projected revenues and current spending levels. How would you prefer to have this deficit closed - only through tax increases, mostly through tax increases but with some spending cuts, through an equal mix of tax increases and spending cuts, mostly through spending cuts but with some tax increases, or only through spending cuts?

The responses, of statewide registered voters:

Cuts only: 31%
Mostly cuts: 19%
Equal mix of cuts and taxes: 29%
Mostly taxes: 9%
Taxes only: 4%
No opinion: 8%

So the way this is being reported in the media strikes me as being pretty flawed. The way I read this says 61% of voters want taxes to be some element of the solution to the budget mess, and only 31% want cuts-only.

Sure, those numbers could and should be better. But even in spite of progressives' inability to deliver those messages to Californians, 61% don't want an all-cuts budget. It should be noted that such a budget is exactly what Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman propose for California.

What the poll didn't ask is about specific programs. In January PPIC found that 2/3rds of Californians would pay higher taxes if it went to education. That suggests that the rather vague and unspecific nature of this Field Poll means its utility for driving policy is very, very limited.

Field Poll also examined attitudes on the upcoming initiative to change the 2/3rds rule to a simple majority on budget (but not on taxes) that may make the November ballot. They found it was close: 43% support, 47% oppose. The initiative likely to go forward would include financial penalties to legislators if a budget isn't passed on time, which as I understand it boosts the poll numbers for this proposal significantly.

But what we also see is that just as Democrats in Washington, DC have failed to drive home the message that Republican obstruction is responsible for a large part of the political problems the country faces, Democrats in Sacramento have had similar problems. When Field asked about whether we could solve California's problems "if lawmakers are willing to compromise and work together" or if we needed constitutional changes, they found 20% said "constitutional change" and 75% said "politicians should work together."

While the construction of that question is iffy (of course voters will say they want their politicians to work together), it does indicate that Sacramento Democrats have not done an effective job of explaining that Republican obstruction is the reason why nothing gets done.

Ultimately this poll gives a roadmap to Speaker PĂ©rez: insist that taxes be part of the budget solution, link them to specific programs that people want (particularly education), and make sure Californians know that it is Republicans who are standing in the way of that happening.

Robert Cruickshank :: 61% of California Voters Want Taxes As Part of Budget Solution
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"What the poll didn't ask is about specific programs." (0.00 / 0)
The poll is definitely missing a few questions. Like, "If you suggest a cuts only approach, what should we cut?" Education? Road building? Prisons? Fire safety? Water projects? Parks? Police?

Or, "Experts say that waste, fraud and abuse account for only a few percent of government spending. Do you still think that a cut only approach is appropriate?"

The pollsters need to get into a lot more detail when dealing with something as complex as California.


uh huh, yeah (1.00 / 1)
Good Luck, Cuts is all the tiny microscopic hard right brains of the Repugnican Party kNOws about, there are about $40 Billion in Tax Loopholes and of those $20 to $30 billion You;d think could be closed, Yet our ASSet in Chief, Arnold the Repugnant(the 1st) thinks any cuts in the Loopholes is bad, While Cuts are Good, What an Idiot, Why did California elect such a cretin? Meg and Poizner will be no better(Ones another Arnold, An Outsider and the other likes Cuts and only Cuts), I'll vote for Brown and thanks to UPS, He ironically has name Recognition, As everyone has heard of Brown. :)

[ Parent ]
When I was 25 and just staring out... (0.00 / 0)
I was a Democrat supporter and until recently thought they were the party of choice...

Now I see the Left/Dem/Progresso whatever faction telling me as a single 30,000 gross a year earner they want a significant chunk of my income AND want to FORCE me to buy health insurance.

So if you add up sales taxes, income taxes as well as the other fees and such were talking 25% of my income going to the government.

I know damn well I don't receive equal value in return.  I am not a property owner.  I am trying to be a self sufficient person.

What argument can you make to me that 25% of my income is fair?

Hi. I'm Charles.  I worked my way from homelessness to a business owner.  Be what you have it in you to be!


the argument is simple enough (0.00 / 0)
what would it cost for you to purchase all the public services those tax dollars provide on the open market? would it be cheaper than what you pay in taxes?

most people who claim "yes" aren't being honest about a) the amount of public services and infrastructure they use on an everyday basis, and/or b) have an unrealistic fantasy of how cheap the "free market" provides analogous services and infrastructure.  


[ Parent ]
The only public services I use... (0.00 / 0)
are the roads and the "insurance services" of a Fire Dept and Police.  My share of these services as just one of CAs population would be a quite manageable payment.

I don't use welfare...

I don't support are sentencing laws that bloat the prison system...

I don't use state provided health care...

There is no ethical argument for taking from the WORKING lower classes to give to public employee union workers or the welfare class.

How many electoral defeats will prove this out to you???

Hi. I'm Charles.  I worked my way from homelessness to a business owner.  Be what you have it in you to be!


[ Parent ]
You're wrong (0.00 / 0)
Other public services you use, just off the top of my head:

- Everyone you interact with who has gotten a public education (including probably you), including people who have gotten subsidized public university education.  The value of that compared to the investment is so large as to be almost incalculable.

- Sewer & water services (whether public or private, they are at the very least regulated by the government, keeping you safe from disease).

- Public health services (or do you think that the microbes that cause an epidemic that sweeps the "welfare" class would somehow realize that you're a member of the working class, and pass you by).

- Building standards (enforced by building inspectors) so that you have some chance of living in a safe building)

- DMV, enforcing minimum driving competence so your roads are relatively safe.  Oh, and street-and-sidewalk cleaning (and if you lived in a cold climate, snow-plowing).

- At a national level, the internet was developed by government employees with public money, long before it was commercialized

- Lots of medicines developed with public money, grants administered by government employees

- Environmental regulations, enforced by the government, helping keep the air breathable and water drinkable.  Perhaps you never learned about how polluted much of the US was before the 1970's.

- You might also want to consider the effect on the prison system and the cost of policing if you make transfer payments to the poorest so low as to be worthless.  Desperate underclasses in a nation that fetishizes guns tend to have pretty clear outcomes (see Brazil, South Africa).

Your "I only use..." argument is really shortsighted thinking (and it's false), whether driven by natural selfishness or lack of education.  

The problem is that so much of what surrounds you is invisible to you, because it's part of the landscape -- the infrastructure our nation built in just a few decades from 1950 through 1980.  And it was made possible by the collective power of our tax dollars and a functioning government.  


[ Parent ]
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