Gov. Jerry Brown persuaded Californians to back his November tax initiative, and now they are rewarding him with a record high job-approval rating along with new faith in the state's fiscal future, according to a poll released Wednesday from the Public Policy Institute of California.
The poll finds Brown's job approval has hit 48 percent after the passage of Proposition 30, the initiative that raised the statewide sales tax by a quarter cent and raised income tax rates for people who make more than $250,000 a year. The Democratic governor's approval rating is up from 42 percent in October and a low of 34 percent in February and March of 2011.
Nearly half of Californians surveyed by PPIC said they feel better about the state's budget situation because of Proposition 30. That rate of optimism mirrors the sentiment before the recession hit California. Twenty-three percent said the passage of Proposition 30 has made them more pessimistic about the budget, and 28 percent said it has not changed their views.
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Californians are even giving the state Legislature improved grades, sending lawmakers' job approval rating to 34 percent among all adults, surpassing 30 percent for the first time since January 2008.
Still, a combined 94 percent of Californians still believe the state budget situation is a problem — 68 percent call it a "big problem," while 26 percent saying it is "somewhat of a problem."
The survey also found that although voters were willing to raise some taxes on the November ballot, a record high number of adults, two-thirds, said they oppose extending the sales tax to services that are not currently taxed. They also oppose raising the vehicle license fee, PPIC found.
"It's certainly likely that they feel that they have made some progress on the budget now and they want to see government spending responsibly what they have as opposed to asking voters for more taxes," said Mark Baldassare, president and chief executive of PPIC.
Likewise, Californians still strongly back Proposition 13, the landmark voter-approved initiative that limits property taxes, despite talk by some lawmakers of tinkering with it. Sixty percent of adults said it has been mostly a good thing for the state, while 31 percent said it has been mostly bad.
Six in 10 adults say the public policy decisions voters make through the initiative process "are probably better than those made by the governor and state Legislature," the pollsters said.
Baldassare said the biggest surprise he found was that respondents from around the state and different demographic groups now believe the state will be a better place to live in 2025 than it is now — or at least that there will be no change. Only Republicans remain pessimistic. A majority of that group believe California will be a worse place to live, the poll found.
PPIC surveyed 2,001 California adults by landline and cellphone from Nov. 13-20. The poll has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points among all adults.