Polling looks good for Brown

Voters OK with his tax; CTA on board

It was a fine weekend for Jerry Brown. He should be elated with the first polling on his revised tax initiative. And the California Teachers Assn., a strong supporter of his first initiative, has come around to back the new version, too, and committed $9 million for the June and November elections. At least a piece of that’s expected to help Brown round up signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, though how much has yet to be disclosed.

Results of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll of 1,500 registered voters show that 64 percent of voters back a temporary quarter-cent sales tax and higher income taxes on those making at least $250,000 ­– the compromise that Brown and the California Federation of Teachers agreed to earlier this month in merging their initiatives; 33 percent of those polled opposed it. Democrats were predictably for it (80-16) and Republicans agin (38-61); however, Brown did surprisingly well with independents, three-quarters of whom said they support the initiative, with 23 percent opposed.

Voters were told the money – $7 billion to $9 billion – would go toward public schools, community colleges, services for children and older adults, and local public safety, in line with the new initiative’s title (the School and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012) and summary. Brown can claim that because, while the revenue will go to the General Fund, a portion will go to K-12 and community colleges through Proposition 98, while $2 billion will support realignment, in which counties will permanently take responsibility for some social services and prisoners transferred to county jails.

The poll was taken in the days immediately after the deal between Brown and the CFT, but before the teachers union decided to stop collecting signatures for its Millionaires Tax, so pollsters asked about that one, too. CFT proposed a permanent, higher tax, though only for millionaires.

CFT’s initiative outpolled the hybrid tax plan 69-27, 5 percentage points higher. But business lobbies had already come out against CFT’s plan and may have waged war against it, so Brown’s tradeoff – sticking with a small sales tax and lowering the rates on the wealthy – could prove smart if business groups end up sitting on their hands.

“Jerry Brown may have pulled off a coup. By convincing the teachers to drop their initiative, he ends up with a compromise that still draws big levels of support,” Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, said in a statement.

The strong poll results on the initiative would appear to contradict Californians’ ambivalence about paying any new taxes. Asked whether the state’s $9 billion deficit should be resolved through a combination of taxes and cuts, as Brown proposed, or just cuts, 49 percent said do both taxes and cuts, while 45 percent said cuts alone. Apparently, respondents feel OK about taxes as long as they’re not getting the bill. (A full 80 percent also favor a $1 a pack tax increase on cigarettes, which is on the June ballot.)

That sentiment is reflected in the apparent opposition to the other tax proposal that may be on the November ballot, proposed by civil rights attorney Molly Munger and backed by the state PTA. It would provide $11 billion to K-12 and early childhood education by increasing the income tax across the board, though most families earning less than $50,000 would pay a negligible increase. It polls the mirror image of Brown’s new tax, with 32 percent in favor, 64 percent against. (Munger and the PTA face the challenge of explaining to voters that the increase will apply to their net incomes, after deductions, not to their gross incomes.)

The  endorsement of Brown’s merged initiative by CTA’s State Council of 800 delegates was expected, but critical nonetheless.

In a statement, CTA President Dean Vogel called the revised plan “a responsible and progressive plan that requires the wealthy pay their fair share in order to close the state budget deficit, restore funding to schools, colleges and essential public services and put California on the road to recovery.” He promised to work “with other labor unions and community groups to quickly qualify this initiative for the November ballot.” That implies that CTA will fork over some of the $4 million to $5 million it will take to get 1.2 million signatures by mid-May.

The State Council will meet again in June, at which point it could agree to additional spending on the November election.

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  1. I wonder what the support would have been had the pollers actually explained that the money won’t be going to education. Jerry is taking a big chance by betting that voters won’t pay enough attention to notice, especially with Munger’s initiative there to highlight the difference.

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  2. Schools still lose money if the CFT/Brown hybrid tax plan passes.  They’ll just lose a lot more if it doesn’t.  The only initiative that will help restore some of the damage that has been done after $20 billion cut, money diverted, money deferred –  is the Molly Munger/PTA “Our Children Our Future” initiative.   Revenue goes directly to the school sites with local community oversight.    Sacramento and the legislature stays out of the picture.

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  3. Hopefully,  people will soon wake up to the fact that the Governor’s old tax initiative as well as his new compromise initiative will not put schools in a better situation.  He’s lying when he says that his is a “millionaire’s tax”.  It isn’t.  It’s a tax on those who earn $250,000 and above –  as well as a sales tax.  He’s also lying when he says that his initiative will send all of its revenue to schools.  It will go to prisons and elsewhere.
    The Governor just won a court battle that says it’s legal for him to divert money away from the general fund and so lower the calculation for what schools are due under Prop 98.  He did it last year in the amount of $2 billion taken away from schools and now there’s nothing to stop him from doing it again — and again.  The pittance schools will receive from his tax, whatever he wants to call it,  just got watered down some more.

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  4. CA voter is a stupid voter, anything with “it’s for the children” at the end will pass no problem. The whole educational system is broken, not just CA, the whole country, yet we keep throwing money on it.
    People’s Republic of California is falling off the cliff. And our comrades in Sacramento are partying hard.

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  5. Brown is using school children to fill union coffers.  Telling voters that unless they pass his tax bill,  the schools will not be funded,  is an abhorrent lie.    What is really sad are the number of voters who apparently can’t understand that a California recovery depends on Business Revenue and Brown has created an environment that is encouraging those businesses to leave.

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  6. Why do you think it’s a lie bob?  Are you saying he won’t make the cuts he says he will if the voters tell him they don’t want to fund education?  He’s already put cuts into his budget and it’s clear he wants to move forward with realignment and prop 98 covering bonds, both of which will have significant negative impact on education. So he does not seem to shy away from that given the opportunity.

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