Lesson for all Americans? California budget “fixes” meet trouble with voters

Five proposals are falling short of the support needed to pass. Only a plan to block pay raises for elected officials when the state is running a deficit has strong support.
By Michael Finnegan
Los Angeles Times
March 25, 2009
Five state ballot measures aimed at solving California’s budget crisis are falling short of the support needed to pass in the May special election, a sign that voters may force lawmakers into another fierce clash over tax hikes and spending cuts, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The state’s dismal economy has already partly unraveled the budget deal that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature reached last month, with a drop in tax collections leaving a new $8-billion shortfall. Rejection of the ballot measures would widen the gap to nearly $14 billion.

The least popular measure, Proposition 1C, is also the one that state leaders are counting on most for immediate fiscal relief: It would let the state borrow $5 billion against future lottery revenues. The cost, to be paid over decades, would be billions in new interest obligations, and less lottery money to meet future spending needs.

The poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that Proposition 1C would lose in a rout if the May 19 election were held today, with 37% of likely voters in favor and 50% opposed.

Faring slightly better, but still decisively rejected, would be Proposition 1A. It would cap state spending while extending billions in temporary tax hikes for an extra two years. The survey found 39% of likely voters for the measure and 46% against it.

So far, Proposition 1A is the measure that has drawn the most attention. Conservatives on talk radio, enraged by the extension of the tax hikes, have made its defeat a top priority. Some labor unions are weighing whether to campaign against the spending cap.

The dynamics of the special election are volatile, and public opinion could swing dramatically once campaign advertising begins. The poll found more than 10% of likely voters are undecided on most of the ballot measures. Also, voter turnout is likely to be low, and it is unclear what mix of Californians will wind up casting ballots in the oddly timed election.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-
poll26-2009mar26,0,3460616.story

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