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Californians heavily favor Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal for a temporary increase in sales taxes and personal income taxes of wealthy individuals, a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California indicates. They also strongly oppose cuts to education that would be triggered should the tax plan fail to be passed by voters.

When read a summary of the tax proposal, 68 percent of likely voters indicated their approval. 85% of Democrats are in favor of the higher taxes, and 83% are opposed to further cuts to education funding. Republicans are slightly in favor of the tax plan with 53% indicating approval, but are more strongly convinced that money shouldn’t be cut from education, with 67% opposition.

“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,” said Institute president and CEO Mark Baldassare in a release outlining the survey results.

Indeed, while 40% of voters approve of Brown’s plan to balance the budget through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, a comparable 41% believe that the budget gap should be bridged primarily through further cuts to spending.

While Brown proposes using revenue from tax increases to shore up K-12 education if they’re passed, cuts are still on the table for three other major recipients of state money. A complete budget package includes cuts to higher education, health and human services (including welfare, child care, and Medi-Cal funding), and prisons and corrections. 51% of voters say they oppose the cuts as a whole.

Individually, most likely voters say K-12 education (59%) is the most important area to avoid cuts, followed by higher education (19%) and health and human services (17%). Only six percent say prison budgets are most important to maintain.

When it comes to paying for services, 62% of voters say they’re willing to pay for primary education through increased taxes, followed by 49% prepared to ante up for health and human services and 46% when it comes to higher education. Only 12% say they’re willing to pay more to support the state’s chronically overcrowded prison system.

When given the opportunity to split the proposals for increased sales taxes on the entire population and to increase taxes on the rich, support for the sales tax measure fades. 68% of voters, including 85% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans (52% of whom are opposed), favor raising the income tax rate on the those in the state’s highest tax bracket. But when viewed alone, 64% of voters (including 54% of Democrats and 74% of Republicans) are opposed to a sales tax hike.

On other revenue proposals, 61% of voters favor increasing corporate tax rates – the highest level of support since the Institute began asking this question in 2005. 60% also favor limiting Proposition 13 protections for commercial property, allowing it to be taxed at its market value while maintaining a strict limit on property tax increases on residential property. 54% of likely voters, however, do not believe sales taxes should be extended to cover goods and services that are not currently taxed.

The study also finds that Brown’s approval level among likely voters is at 47%, a new high during his term, and that 49% of voters in the state approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance, split evenly with 49% disapproving and two percent neutral. Approval ratings of Congress as a whole are dismal – only 14% of voters give the House and Senate their stamp of approval.

Among Republicans, Mitt Romney leads Newt Gingrich in the run-up to that party’s primaries, 37% to 18%.

Two-thirds of Californians back Brown’s proposal to shift both tax dollars and fiscal responsibility away from the state and onto local governments. Such a transition began in October, when state prisons began a transitional phase to move responsibility for inmates to county jails.

Perhaps most telling, the 54% of California adults say they have “a lot” or “some” knowledge on how state and local governments raise money. But of those, only 18% knew that K-12 education is the largest area of government spending.

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SanDiegoParrothead Jan. 25, 2012 @ 4:41 p.m.

This is really sad. The Pols trot out this excuse - we'll have to cut education - every time they want a tax hike, and the idiot population falls for it!

Just once I wish CA would be smart enough to call their bluff


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