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California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a speech at Los Angeles City Hall to discuss the state budget and a ballot measure to raise taxes following his State of the State speech in Sacramento on January 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
California Governor Jerry Brown has found himself in a unique position for a politician – one in which his constituents support raising taxes. A recent poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California shows that 68 percent of California voters support Brown’s proposed November ballot initiative. It includes tax hikes on sales and the wealthy when the intent is to use the revenue to shore up the state’s struggling K-12 schools and community colleges. Moreover, an even higher number of Californians, 75 percent, oppose cutting funding to schools.
Parsing the poll numbers reveals that Californians overall have mixed opinions about whether they prefer higher taxes and retaining social services or lower taxes and fewer services, but they have nine months to make up their minds. As for the governor, Brown’s approval ratings have slipped slightly in the year since he took office - slumping form 47 to 44 percent – but the perception is that he is trying. "There are still a lot of people on the fence about Jerry. But he's getting credit for effort,” said Mark Baldassare, the policy institute's president and pollster.
What do you think about raising taxes to pay for schools? What can Governor Brown do to maintain this delicate balance of support through November?
Jerry Brown, Governor of California
Mark Baldassare, President and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California
Dan Schnur, Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and adjunct faculty at USC Annenberg School