Voter support for Brown’s taxes still below 50%


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Support for Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax package in a potential special election continues to be mired below 50% of likely voters, according to a new poll, which is likely to further embolden Democrats and their labor allies who have called on the governor to abandon his pursuit of a public referendum.

Even before this latest survey, Democrats had said they feared that lukewarm support would make an election on taxes a losing proposition. ‘You’ve got to be 10 points up, you’ve got to be in the 60s to have a prayer,’ said David Kieffer, executive director of the state council of the Service Employees International Union, in a recent interview.


Support for Brown’s plan to extend sales and vehicle tax hikes for five years and temporary income taxes for four years stood at only 46% of likely voters, according to the survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Brown, in an appearance Wednesday, called the poll ‘a little hard to interpret’ and said he would not back down from his campaign promise to ask for voter sign-off on any tax hikes. Brown instead seized on the result in the poll showing that a strong majority of likely voters, 76%, said they want a say in how the budget is balanced.

The governor said there is ‘massive support for letting the people decide.’

The state budget is clearly on the minds of many voters, according to the poll, with 82% calling it a big problem. But Californians remain divided over how to tackle a deficit now estimated at $10-billion, with 40% backing a mixture of spending cuts and tax hikes and 36% preferring that the books be balanced mostly with cuts.

As they have in numerous past surveys, voters said they would be most likely to support higher taxes to maintain funding for K-12 education. The public is most opposed to added taxes for funding prisons, though the survey was completed before the recent U.S. Supreme Court order to release tens of thousands of state prisoners.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento