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Californians Favor Granting Local Governments New Taxing Powers


Majority voter approval in local areas would be required

Media Contact: Suzanne Wu at (213) 740-0252 or suzanne.wu@usc.edu; Michelle Salzman at (213) 821-9311 or msalzman@college.usc.edu.
For poll datasets, videos and methodology, visit /poll

LOS ANGELES — July 24, 2011 — A majority of California voters favor giving local governments and school districts new taxing powers to raise revenues, and the decision to give them that authority should be up to voters in the local area, according to results from the latest USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll.

When asked whether local governments and school districts should be allowed to raise taxes on specific items the state is currently allowed to tax, such as alcoholic beverages, sweetened beverages, tobacco products and oil extraction, if a majority of local voters approved, 55 percent of California voters said they were in favor of such a measure with 39 percent opposed. Thirty percent of Californians said they would favor it “strongly.”

Currently, local governments in California cities and towns require a two-thirds majority vote to gain the ability to raise taxes. Allowing local governments and school districts the power to raise revenue with a majority vote could help make up the difference for services lost through cuts in the state budget.
 
“The fact that so many Californians are willing to give local government this power suggests that they understand the difficulty these governments are facing to provide public services, but it also reinforces that voters want to make decisions on their taxes for themselves,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

Across age groups support was relatively even, though voters in their 30s tended to favor the measure at a higher rate; 66 percent would support the measure.

Fifty-one percent of Latino voters, 57 percent of White voters and 58 percent of Asian voters said they would favor the measure. Black voters were less likely to support the measure with 46 percent opposed.

Support by Latino voters dropped by a 12-point margin after receiving an explanation of the pros and cons for the measure.  The pro argument explained that after years of cutbacks to local schools, public safety and other services, local governments need options for raising revenue, and those decisions should be up to voters in the local area. The con argument said that at a time when California taxpayers are already overburdened, the state legislature should not make it easier for government to raise taxes; raising taxes hurts businesses and prevents them from creating jobs.

Prior to the clarification, 63 percent of Latinos said they would support giving local governments the power to raise revenues; after the explanation support dropped to 51 percent.

Californians across party lines varied in their support, with 65 percent of self-identified Democrats, 53 percent of Independents and 43 percent of Republicans in favor of the measure.

Local Government Taxes: Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, and Evan Halper, Sacramento Bureau Chief from the Los Angeles Times, discuss issues surrounding local government.


“NO” TO CARD CHECK

In order to unionize, current California law requires that a majority of workers must vote by secret ballot for union representation. The state legislature recently passed a bill that would have made it easier for farm workers in California to unionize by eliminating the secret ballot and simply requiring a majority of employees to sign cards saying they want a union. The bill was vetoed by the governor.

The majority of California voters said they do not support a card check with 48 percent opposed and 39 percent in favor.  

Latino respondents were evenly split, with 44 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed. White voters were less likely to support a card check with 50 percent opposed and 37 percent in favor.

Before receiving a pair of statements describing arguments in support of and in opposition to the measure, support for the measure was slightly higher. Forty-five percent of Californians said they would oppose it and 42 percent said they would favor it.

The pro statement said that a card check would protect workers’ rights by preventing corporations from controlling the information workers receive and intimidating or even firing people who try to vote for a union. The con statement said that a card check would strip workers of their right to privacy and increase the risk of intimidation or coercion by forcing workers to sign a card in public, instead of a private vote.

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll was conducted July 6-17, 2011, and surveyed 1,507 registered voters in California. The poll includes a significant oversample of Latino voters, interviewed in both Spanish and English. The margin of error for the overall sample is +/- 2.52 percentage points.

 

WEBSITE: /poll
TWITTER: @usclatpoll

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.