USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Press Release
In Face of Higher Calif. Budget Shortfall, Support Slips for Gov. Brown’s Tax Initiative
Majority of voters support governor’s proposal to reduce work hours for state employees.
A phone conference discussing the results of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll of California politics, including voter opinions on high speed rail and Propositions 28 and 29, is SUNDAY, June 3 at 11:00 a.m. PT. Domestic call-in number: (800) 230-1059. International: +01 (612) 234-9959. To reserve a line, contact Suzanne Wu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOS ANGELES — May 29, 2012 — Confronted with a larger-than-expected budget deficit, a majority of California voters continue to support Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed November ballot initiative that would temporarily raise the state sales tax and income tax on high earners in the state — but this support shows signs of slipping.
Approval for Brown’s ballot initiative fell five percentage points in the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, conducted May 17-21. Fifty-nine percent of voters favor Brown’s budget proposal — including the ballot initiative that would temporarily raise the state sales tax and income tax on high earners — and 36 percent oppose it. In a March USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, 64 percent of voters supported Brown’s ballot initiative and 33 percent opposed it.
This margin narrows further when voters are presented with arguments for and against Brown's proposal, along with information that California faces a budget deficit of $16 billion, much higher than the initial projection of $9 billion.
In the face of these new numbers, 51 percent of likely voters agreed with a statement that it is "more important than ever to support Governor Brown's proposal to temporily increase the income tax on high earners. No one wants higher taxes, but we need to make these tough choices to protect public schools, higher education and public safety."
In contrast, 41 percent of likely voters agreed with the statement, "the increased budget deficit shows clearly that state government does not know how to balance a budget or spend taxpayer dollars. It's more important than ever to oppose Governor Brown's proposal to temporarily increase the state sales tax because the money will just be wasted again."
"Governor Brown and his advisors have argued that the prospect of difficult spending cuts would lead to increased support for additional revenues, but the ongoing news coverage of the state's budget problems may be creating an obstacle for his ballot initiative as well,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. "Voters have indicated a willingness to pay more for public schools and public safety. But they are also getting skeptical about whether their elected representatives can be trusted to spend their money wisely."
Forty-nine percent of California voters approve of the job being done by Brown, virtually unchanged from the results of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll in March 2012. But Brown’s disapproval numbers have risen slightly in the past few months, from 35 percent in March to 39 percent in the latest poll.
VOTERS SUPPORT REDUCING WORK HOURS FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
The governor’s plan would seek to balance the budget deficit through a combination of revenue increases and cuts to health and welfare spending, as well as other state programs. Brown’s plan also proposes reducing the workweek for state employees by 5 percent — from 40 hours a week to 38 hours.
By a 2-to-1 margin, California voters support reducing the number of hours state employees work, except for public safety employees, in order to save an estimated $400 million. Sixty percent of voters favor reducing the public employee workweek and 30 percent oppose it.
Latino voters were much less likely than voters overall to support cutting the public employee workweek. Forty-four percent of Latino voters in California favored reducing the public employee workweek, and 45 percent opposed.
Overall, when told this cut would mean state offices are open four days a week, support for reduced work hours for public employees declined: 54 percent of voters, including 44 percent of Latino voters, favor reducing the workweek if it would mean state offices closed one more day a week. Thirty-nine percent of voters overall, including 48 percent of Latinos, oppose it.
The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll was conducted from May 17-21, 2012 by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Republican polling firm American Viewpoint. The full sample of 1,002 registered voters has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
For more results and methodology of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, click here.
FOR MEDIA: These results from the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, and additional findings on high speed rail, online gambling, and Propositions 28 and 29, will be discussed in a phone conference on Sunday, June 3 at 11 a.m. PT, with representatives from the University of Southern California and polling firms Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and American Viewpoint.
United States: (800) 230-1059
International: +01 (612) 234-9959
Space is limited. To reserve a line, contact Suzanne Wu at email@example.com.
In addition, Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, will be guest-tweeting from the Twitter account @uscelection2012 about the results of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and election news.
About the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll: The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll is a series of statewide public opinion polls in California, designed to survey voter attitudes on a wide range of political, policy, social and cultural issues.
Conducted at regular intervals throughout the year, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll is one of the largest polls of registered voters in the state and has been widely cited, helping to inform the public and to encourage discourse on key political and policy issues.
About USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences: USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is the heart of the university. The largest, oldest and most diverse of USC's 19 schools, USC Dornsife is composed of more than 30 academic departments and dozens of research centers and institutes. USC Dornsife is home to approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 750 faculty members with expertise across the humanities, social sciences and sciences.
About the Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 2 million and 3 million on Sunday, and a combined print and interactive local weekly audience of 4.5 million. The fast-growing latimes.com draws over 10 million unique visitors monthly.