Saturday, September 29, 2012

Support Dwindles for Proposition 30's Multi-Billion Dollar Tax Hike

A majority still favors the initiative, according to the Los Angeles Times poll out this week. But support has declined as folks take a look at the measure, with concerns especially about waste and abuse in spending. The buzz at my college is abject alarm, since a failure to pass the law will result in massive cuts to programs. The administration has an entire slate of vocational programs, and so forth, that are scheduled to get the ax next year. And that's going to entail full-time tenured layoffs, which is frightening to anyone who's employed at the community colleges. There's little danger to core general education programs, like political science, so rest assured dear readers, your humble blogger is quite safe (and I've got seniority as well, which is another layer of protection from layoffs). But there's no telling what could happen ultimately. It's not clear how the state's public education system can continue without massive reforms, from top to bottom, including revisiting historic guarantees to universal access to all education-ready Californians.

See LAT, "Support slips for Brown's tax hike":

SACRAMENTO — Support for Gov. Jerry Brown's plan for billions of dollars in tax hikes on the November ballot is slipping amid public anxiety about how politicians spend money, but voters still favor the proposal, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

The findings suggest that voters are leery of sending more cash to Sacramento in the wake of a financial scandal at the parks department, spiraling costs for a multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project to connect Northern and Southern California and ill-timed legislative pay raises.

Brown's measure would temporarily raise income tax rates on high earners for seven years and boost the state sales tax by a quarter-cent for four years in a bid to avoid steep cuts in funds for schools and other programs.

Fifty-five percent of registered voters say that they back such an increase, a drop from May, when 59% of voters supported it. The new poll shows 36% of voters opposed, with the remainder undecided.

Views swing widely by political affiliation. Among Democrats, 72% favor the proposal. Only 27% of Republican voters support it. Sixty-three percent of independent voters approve.

An intense opposition campaign could derail the governor's initiative, Proposition 30. Support drops to 48% when voters are presented with arguments they might hear before the Nov. 6 election. Foes of the measure say, for example, that government wastes too much of the money it already has.

"An ongoing debate can make this very close," said Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, one of two firms that conducted the bipartisan poll. The other company, American Viewpoint, is a Republican concern.

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times poll surveyed 1,504 registered voters by telephone from Sept. 17 to Sept. 23. The margin of error is 2.9 percentage points.

Brown, whose approval rating has dipped 3 points since May to 46%, has said the state needs new taxes because budget cuts alone won't solve its financial problems. He's counting on voters like Gerardine Gauch to turn out on election day.

The 60-year-old prison psychologist from Monterey County said California is facing the hard reality that it's no longer a sun-splashed land "where everything goes fine forever."

"When you're growing up, you have to choose what's valuable and what's not," said Gauch, a Democrat. "And you have to pay for what's valuable."

Others are skeptical of Brown's vow to cut almost $6 billion from the budget if taxes don't pass, with public schools taking most of the hit. The threat hasn't budged voters like Anna Carson, a 60-year-old Republican from San Diego.

"They use education as the emotional hook," she said. "It's just baloney."

Tiffany Axene, a 32-year-old Republican from Riverside County, won't support the tax hikes either, even though she has four small children who could be bound for public schools. "I'm just tired of seeing people who make money get taxed and taxed," she said.

Younger Californians are some of Proposition 30's most consistent supporters, with 77% of registered voters ages 18 through 29 in favor. Support slides to 47% among respondents older than 64. Voters with children of school age or younger fall in between, supporting the measure 59% to 35%.

The outcome in November could be influenced by the 8% of respondents who are unsure how to vote — and by whether opponents of the proposal can muster the resources to sway them.

"The biggest question now is whether the opposition will have the money to get their argument heard," said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and a former GOP political consultant.
I'll be voting against the initiative, since I've long held that the state's blue model of governance is unsustainable. If Prop. 30 fails it will force a round of major restructuring that could save the state billions in the long run, and that should be just the start of rethinking the out-of-control California big government boondoggle.