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PPIC Poll Shows Large Information Gap

by: Brian Leubitz

Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 12:05:00 PM PST

California voters are against cuts, mixed on taxes.

by Brian Leubitz

When the Republican realized that they could make some electoral gains from becoming the "Second Santa"with their tax cuts, they knew they were on to something.  They didn't have to be the bad guys promoting spending cuts, and their tax cuts would somehow net just as much revenue because the magic "Laffer curve" would make everything better. And if it didn't work, well, the Democrats would have to cut spending and do the dirty work.

And, unsurprisingly, it worked. It has clearly worked in California, where Prop 13 and its anti-tax brethren have wreaked havoc on the state.  For a few decades we were able to hide much of this through some huge bubbles and creative accounting, but that is a thing of the past.  And so we have a huge deficit, a dysfunctional tax system, and a government that only allows cuts. What's a Republican to do to keep up his role as a second santa?

Well, blame it all on "waste, fraud, and abuse."  It's a simple lie that, when repeated enough, becomes mantra to the media and, eventually, the general public.  Take the latest PPIC poll and the latest finding:

Most Californians (59% adults, 55% likely voters) believe state government could cut spending and still provide the same level of services.

"There remains a strong belief that the state government could spend less and provide the same services even as Californians notice local service reductions from state spending cuts and show early support for a tax increase," says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. (PPIC)

When the budget first got bad a few years back, perhaps there was a bit of fat to trim around the budget. Some unnecessary expenditures here and an unsuccessful program there. Not enough to fix the budget, but a few billion could be saved without fundamentally changing the role of government.

Those days are gone. Cuts to government expenditures mean direct cuts to services. There is simply no way to provide the same level of services for an ever decreasing amount of money. Go take a look at your local government offices and then compare it to the offices of your local bank corporate office.  There are no fancy waterfalls and lavish breakrooms offering wide selections of Odwalla and Rice Krispies, there are just a dwindling level of state employees working ever harder to keep up.  Teachers are spending large chunks of their paychecks to provide supplies for their classrooms and their students. Cuts to CalFire put firefighters in very real danger and mean more damage to California homes.

And yet, a strong majority of Californians are living in a world where we can somehow make painless cuts? Do they know of any of these painless cuts? Do the Republicans? Have they ever presented any of these so-called painless cuts?

But while 40 percent of adults and likely voters prefer closing the state's budget gap with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases-the approach Brown has proposed-similar proportions (35% adults, 41% likely voters) prefer closing it mainly through spending cuts. That being said, when read a summary, 72 percent of adults and 68 percent of likely voters favor Brown's initiative proposal.

Interestingly, the PPIC data also shows much stronger support for raising the highest income tax bracket(74% adults, 68% likely voters) than the sales tax. The sales tax is opposed by 69% of adults, 64% of likely voters. That particular question raises the specter of competing tax measures, the "Kardashian" tax and Brown's own measure. There is still a lot of time before signatures are due, and Brown has been working to shut down any other revenue measure. Whether he is successful or not will still take a while to know, but may end up dramatically changing the odds of his own measure.

While there have been efforts at public education on the budget by state politicians, it is a monstrous task, especially when there are players on the other side actively promoting misinformation.  But, at every opportunity, progressives must be sure to emphasize the point that waste, fraud, and abuse is not an answer to all of our budget woes and to explain the real budget situation.

Brian Leubitz :: PPIC Poll Shows Large Information Gap
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True (4.00 / 1)
We do need more state revenue
I'm voting for Jerry Brown's proposed tax increases

But, it does stick in my craw
Legislators seem more than willing to take care of themselves
Is ex-Senator (and drunk driver) Carole Migden still on the state pay roll ?
She sure got a lot of cushy jobs after losing her last election.  Tax payer funded jobs
And she's NOT the only ex-Legislator to get this kind of sinecure

How about the Univ of Cal and Cal State salaries...
It's not the workers or professors who are over paid.....
It's the adminsitrators
We stil lhear about top administrators retiring, getting their retirement check, and starting a new job iwth the smae school the next week
THAT'S what justly makes people unwilling to increase taxes

Is there ANY thought to cleaning up California's house ??

That's exactly what the Governor has been doing. (0.00 / 0)
But the legislature is an independent branch of government and handles its own affairs, including compensation and ethics.

The University of California is governed by a board of Regents to protect it from political meddling in academic issues. The 18 appointed Regents serve 12-year terms and they're about as independent as the judiciary. They outnumber the 7 ex-officio Regents drawn from current political offices (including the Governor) by more than 2 to 1.

UC is a $2.5 billion enterprise and highly qualified people are needed to run it. One reason the admin's salaries are so high is that Wall Street can offer them obscenely higher salaries. But really, there simply aren't enough of the top-paid administrators to make make much of a dent in the budget

When you look at the data, you see that the vast majority of the UC's top earners are professors of medicine, who earn $100k or so for teaching, and $200-$300 for practicing medicine at the UC hospitals. It takes big bucks to lure these people out of private practice.

All the anecdotal stuff coming from the right-wing-noise-machine is true... but it's not significant. Let's keep our attention on the big problem: Insufficient revenue.  

[ Parent ]
Bye Bye (0.00 / 0)
If UC or CSU administrators want to make 'Big Bucks' on Wall Street......   LET THEM

These are tax payer funded positions we're talking about
I remember in Jerry Brown's first incarnation, he talked about 'Psychic Benefits' of working for the people of California

It's time to increase UC and CSU Administrators 'Psychic Benefits' and lower their salaries

Nothing wrong with University professors or public school teachers getting a decent salary.
But, they get cut and the Big shots keep getting raises


If you want a Wall Street Salary... Go to Wall Street
If you're a public university adminsitrator, you'll have to settle for a little less (though not much less)

[ Parent ]
Problem is... (0.00 / 0)
If we argue for more spending, then governor and his friends are going to say we want more spending. How much is enough?

Maybe we could think of ideas to reduce the prison industrial complex, but the prison guards union and the law and order folk would be upset.

I think supporting AB 1017 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano would allow busted cannabis cultivators to be eligible for misdemeanor charges instead of the mandatory felonies they often face today. If we can reduce the number of people who are in our prisons, that is a good thing that Democrats and Republicans can both support.

I know just going after waste fraud and abuse is not enough. I am not going to drink Grover Norquist's poison drink, but taxing our way to salvation is not the answer.

Not true. (0.00 / 0)
"Those days are gone. Cuts to government expenditures mean direct cuts to services. There is simply no way to provide the same level of services for an ever decreasing amount of money."

Of course - this is not true.

You pay your employees less- it's not complicated.  State employees and school administrators are paid far too much particularly in benefits.  If you don't understand this, than you are out-to-lunch.  GUARANTEED pensions (Calpers returned 1.1% this year, Calstrs 2%) are enormously expensive especially down the road.

Paying teachers less (5.00 / 1)
This gets you worse teachers who possibly don't teach students that "out to lunch" shouldn't be hyphenated in this sentence.

As for pensions, please point me to an analysis that says the taxpayers would pay less if we paid state employees Social Security. As Brian correctly points out, most taxpayers don't understand the budget. And pensions are one of the most misunderstood. For starters, we pay state pensions in lieu of Social Security. We have to pay one or the other. Second, teachers contribute to their pensions. It's not just the free ride right-wing talking heads would have you believe.

I will agree with you that college administrators are paid too much. But I know a lot of teachers, and none of them are getting rich.  

[ Parent ]
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