Two big headlines out of a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll:
- Californians have undergone a major turnaround on filling the remaining budget gap with tax extensions, as opposed to more spending cuts. Sixty percent now back putting those tax measures, favored by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrats, on the ballot, with only 33 percent favoring all-cuts. When respondants were informed that the reductions would eat into school budgets, support for that approach dropped to just 25 percent. That's down from last November, when 44 percent wanted the budget gap to be closed with spending cuts alone.
- A clear majority of those surveyed favor a variety of pension reform measures for public employees, all of which would require them to contribute more to their retirement benefits. Most people wanted these changes for both future and current employees.
KQED newcaster Joshua Johnson spoke to Dan Schnur, Director of the Jess Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. On the issue of tax extensions, Schnur credited Jerry Brown with successfully getting his message out on a mixed cuts/taxes approach. Schnur also said that the poll revealed voters as "vehement" about getting a chance to vote on the tax extension, which is also favored by Brown, but opposed by Republicans.
On pension reform, Schnur said that he's "never seen an issue arise on the political landscape so quickly and with such force."
Read the full poll results here.
And if you want a little taste of the kind of retail politicking that the governor is engaging in as he tries to build support around the state for his stalled tax plan, KQED's John Myers shot this short video at a budget town hall meeting at Santa Clarita's Hart High School last Thursday.
More on the ongoing budget melee in John Myers' latest Capital Notes podcast.
Finally, here's Chronicle footage of Brown being shown a schematic of the mind of a California Republican legislator, as he searches for any advantage in upcoming negotiations. (Okay, not really. It was an encounter with Watson, the Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, in Silicon Valley.)
Update 12:34 p.m. Lest you think this poll data is going to soften the hearts of the California GOP toward an election on taxes, publicly at least they ain't biting. Here's the statement released by California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro today:
"This poll is a trial lawyer's dream, judging by the way the respondents were systematically led to the conclusion that higher taxes are the only 'reasonable' solution to California's budget crisis. Jerry Brown's claim that his budget plan produces $14 billion in cuts is pure fiction and any attempt to use that figure as the major focus for polling is completely disingenuous."
"The analysis makes it clear: the bills Governor Brown signed total only $7 billion in cuts, and $7.5 billion in funding shifts, cutbacks to planned spending, and other budget gimmicks. On the other hand, there's no disputing that Jerry's tax plan calls for $60 billion in new taxes over the next five years while his spending plan will increase the state budget by 30% over the next three years. If the participants had been given all the facts, instead of a few leading questions, this poll would've turned out quite differently.
"Even with misleading data and skewed sampling, this poll still could only produce the barest of majorities to agree with its flawed premise, a figure that will not hold up in any true election."