Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval rating is slipping, and with it the public’s support for his proposal to extend $11 billion in temporary tax increases for another five years, according to an independent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Only 34 percent of California adults questioned in the poll approve of Brown’s performance so far, down from 41 percent in early January. Twenty-four percent disapprove of his performance and 42 percent aren’t sure.
At the same time, the percentage of adults who think a special election in June on the tax issue is a good idea has dropped from 67 percent to 54 percent. Among likely voters, support for the election declined from 66 percent to 51 percent.
On the tax question itself, support is also dropping. In January, a slim majority — 53 percent — said they would support Brown’s tax plan if it were on the ballot. Now just 46 percent say they like his idea.
“While many Californians still favor the approach the governor proposed in January, his plan to seek a budget solution through a June ballot has become a more difficult task to achieve,” Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, said in a statement released with the poll. “Even if the budget measure finds its way onto the ballot, state
elected officials’ low approval ratings could limit their ability to persuade voters to go along with a budget plan.”
Results from the survey of 2000 adults has a margin of error of 2.8 percent in either direction.
The biggest challenge Brown faces, according to the poll, is that not even 40 percent of the public agrees with him that the state’s budget gap should be filled with a combination of spending cuts and tax revenue. Just 38 percent hold that view, according to the poll. Essentially the same amount — 37 percent — say they favor balancing the budget with cuts alone. Just 7 percent say they would do it entirely with taxes. The numbers are similar among likely voters.
The PPIC poll also looked at an issue that Republicans have been pushing during budget talks with Brown: public employee pensions. The survey found an increasing number of voters saying that pensions are too high and should be reduced.
Fifty-six percent of likely voters said that the amount government spends on pensions is a “big problem,” and 53 percent said pensions plans should be cut as part of a program to balance the budget.
More than two-thirds of likely voters (74 percent) support changing public employee pensions to defined contribution plans similar to the 401K plans that are increasingly common in the private sector. This idea has strong support among Republicans, Democrats and independents. Even among current public employees, 56 percent say they support the idea.
To see the full poll go to www.ppic.org.