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Californians willing to pay more taxes for schools

Governor's plan to extend temporary sales and income taxes draws support, though voters don't want to pay more for prisons.

By Teresa Mears Jan 27, 2011 7:08PM

This article is by Juliet Williams of The Associated Press.


A majority of California voters agree with Gov. Jerry Brown's approach to closing the state's $25.4 billion budget deficit over the next year and a half, including his plan to hold a special election to extend temporary sales, vehicle and income taxes, according to a poll released Wednesday.


Six in 10 likely voters told the Public Policy Institute of California they are willing to pay higher taxes to support schools, and a majority also would pay more for universities. But voters overwhelmingly oppose paying more for California's overcrowded prison system, which they incorrectly think accounts for the largest share of state spending.


Brown has proposed about $12.5 billion in spending cuts and borrowing, and wants to ask voters in a June special election to extend the temporary tax increases for an additional five years. Extending the income, sales and vehicle taxes is part of Brown's plan to raise $12 billion through tax and fee increases.


Two-thirds of likely voters told pollsters they support Brown's proposal for a special election. Three-quarters approve of Brown's proposal to shift a host of services from the state to local governments; support came from voters of all political philosophies.


"I think it's a good sign. I think we picked right, and I'm hopeful the Legislature will make the hard choices," Brown said about the poll results.


The original increases to the income, sales and vehicle taxes were approved in 2009 but will expire this year unless voters maintain them.


The survey also revealed a disconnect between what voters want and their understanding of how state government works. That suggests Brown and Democratic lawmakers face a challenge in persuading them to approve the tax extensions and go along with the budget cuts, which Brown has acknowledged will be deep and painful.


Schools account for the largest share of state spending by far -- about 42% of general fund spending in the 2010-11 fiscal year. Only 22% of likely voters knew that. Four in 10 believe prisons cost the most, even though the prison system accounts for just 10% of the general fund.


California's incarceration rate is higher than the national average, and its prison spending has climbed dramatically in the last few years as the average cost of housing an inmate has risen to nearly $50,000 a year. But prison spending accounts for $9.2 billion in the current fiscal year, less than half the budget shortfall through June 2012.


Californians also have approved a series of ballot measures that have added to the number of inmates in state prisons and lengthened sentences, starting with the "three-strikes" law in 1994.


Moreover, the state's prison health care system is under the control of a receiver appointed by the federal courts who is demanding greater spending on inmate medical care.


Three-quarters of likely voters surveyed also said they believe it's a good idea to strictly limit state spending, a proposal that could be on the ballot in 2012.


About four in 10 said they pay about the right amount in taxes, while 26% say they pay somewhat too much and another 26% say they pay far too much in taxes.


More than half the likely voters surveyed approve of raising taxes on corporations to

help close the budget gap.


They gave the newly inaugurated Brown a 47% approval rating, although 33% said they did not know enough to answer. A total of 20% disapproved of Brown's performance less than a month into his term.


The institute surveyed 987 likely voters by telephone from Jan. 11 to Jan. 18. The sampling error margin is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Jan 28, 2011 10:36AM
Jan 28, 2011 1:18PM

Illegal's have bankrupted California- period! Get rid of the illegal's and you'll lower crime and won't be giving free school, housing, food, medical, and welfare who don't pay into the system. Illegal immigration is the biggest problem facing the US today as it affects every person financially. Hire unemployed citizens to track them down, fine employers who hire them, fine those who rent to them, kick them out of hospital emergency rooms, and kick them out of our schools. If they protest, then it's easy to arrest them all in one spot. If the whine and cry, point them to the border they crossed illegally and say go home. Would you let a stranger walk into your house, eat your food, and sleep in your bed? Yes you will because that's what illegal's are doing to you. 


Come in legally, pledge allegiance to our flag (not Mexico's) and we will welcome you as one of us. You want to live here, so you break our laws to show how much you disrespect us? 

Jan 28, 2011 12:17PM

Don’t get how these folks think. Out-of-control spending and outrageous taxes to try to cover the spending for decades and then they say ok just keep doing it. Maybe they think the outcome could be different?

Jan 30, 2011 6:42PM
It's not surprising that six in ten support raising taxes to support California's schools 
as nearly  50% of all Californians pay NO State or Federal Income tax .  It's not going
to hurt their pocket book.   They
 nothing to lose , except, perhaps the loss of  more businesses, jobs and  tax - 
payers as they  leave this dysfunctional State in search of healthier places to live .  This 
State is  full of   freeloaders 
who continually want something for nothing  .  

  The public employee pensions and salaries need to be cut .  The schools need
to be de -centralized .  The State bureaucracy needs to be slashed and illegal
and legal immigrants need to start paying their own way   or leave .  

   It's completely wrong that overtaxed and overburden California taxpayers -  many
of whom are barely hanging on  -   should
be forced to pay out  $ 10 billion dollar a YEAR for illegal immigrants  who pay NOTHING 
in State or Federal Income Tax.   No other country in the world would give 
them   education, medical care, books,
lunches,  hospitals, etc. etc.  for free .     They want these things -  they need to 
start paying for them like everyone else .  
Jan 29, 2011 12:30PM
Per student spending has increased nationally by 50% since 1990 (that's inflation corrected).
Californians are incredibly gullible if they believe throwing more money at our dysfunctional, corrupt education system will improve it. 
Kill tenure!
Reform the pension system
Reform the teachers union.
Eliminate the social engineering
Close the dept of education (Americans have dropped .15 grade levels since it's formation).
Return control to localities.

I don't understand how the rabid left can defend system that clearly are not working.  The progressives are actually the biggest obstructionists to progress!

Feb 1, 2011 11:28PM
This article is the exact reason I'm moving out of California at the end of the month. Taking the $6g's in state taxes I paid in 2010 with me too.  Cya suckers.
Feb 3, 2011 11:35AM

Six in 10 likely voters told that they are willing to pay higher taxes to support schools, and a majority also would pay more for universities.

I say 6 in 10 people are stupid.

At this time with the budget deficit, do you really, really think that any tax increase will actually go to the schools? Or actually increase their performance in education?

This will end up like social security, they will use it, or most likely spend it, on something else. probably increase benefits for the teachers to satisfy demands by the unions. either way, it will never help, and i seriously doubt it will ever reach the schools.

Besides that, what happened to the money currently being collected for schools? did it mysteriously disappear? or are they getting to many illegal aliens in school and they want you to pay for them?Crying

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