Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
December 12, 2011

A new poll shows 60 percent of California voters, weary of state spending cuts and unsettled by the prospect of more, are ready to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to raise taxes.

The Public Policy Institute of California poll, released Monday, is the first public measure of voter opinion about Brown’s tax initiative since he announced it this month.

Brown plans to ask voters in November 2012 to temporarily increase the state sales tax and to impose higher income taxes on California’s highest-earners, raising $7 billion annually for five years.

The poll comes amid deep pessimism about the economy and concern about the state budget. More than 80 percent of likely voters think the budget situation is a big problem, and more than two thirds of likely voters predict bad times financially in the year ahead.

“People are beginning to feel the impacts of state reductions in spending at the local level,” poll director Mark Baldassare said, “and people are concerned about what might come about next.”

Sixty-five percent of likely voters feel local government services have been affected a lot by recent state cuts, according to the poll, and more cuts are likely forthcoming. The Brown administration is expected Tuesday to announce mid-year spending cuts to make up for revenue falling below projections.

When asked about those automatic spending reductions, part of the budget package signed last summer, a plurality of likely voters – 45 percent – say they would prefer a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to address the shortfall, according to the poll.

Brown, a Democrat, is seeking to raise the statewide sales tax a half-cent and increase income taxes on people who make $250,000 or more a year. He opened a campaign committee last week, and his political adviser, Steve Glazer, has started fundraising for the effort.

Glazer said the poll’s findings are “encouraging.”

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