Initiative Update:
Voter Support for Governor's Tax Initiative Falls

New polling data from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows that the tax initiative that Governor Jerry Brown proposed for the November ballot is losing voter support. The initiative, currently in the signature-gathering phase, would temporarily increase the personal income tax on top earners and temporarily increase the sales and use tax.

Since January, support among likely voters has declined 16 percent (68 percent in January to 52 percent in March). Capitol observers note that support likely will decline further once a campaign heats up and voters face the onslaught of a media blitz and slate mailers that traditionally takes place in the eight months leading up to an election.

John Myers, a journalist covering state politics for KQED public radio, noted that PPIC pollster Mark Baldassare cautioned against comparing earlier PPIC numbers with the recently released report. Mr. Baldassare said that when PPIC conducted its poll in January, it did not have a formal title and summary to read to respondents over the telephone.

Mr. Myers reported: "Even more fascinating in trying to understand why Governor Brown's measure isn't doing better is what Baldassare says may be the political context in which the new poll was conducted. Unlike January, the governor's proposal is now competing for press and public attention with two other income tax raising measures: the millionaire's tax authored by the California Federation of Teachers and the across-the-board income tax hike for K-12 schools from wealthy activist Molly Munger."

According to PPIC's polling, Republicans and independents are less supportive than others of the governor's proposal, as are voters with a household income of less than $40,000 or more than $80,000.

PPIC's also reported strong support for Proposition 28 (modifying legislative term limits) and Proposition 29 (a tobacco tax increase to pay for a new bureaucracy relating to cancer research), which will be on the June ballot. Support for the state water bond was at 51 percent, with 14 percent still undecided. (For details on the PPIC's polling, see the table below.) (Source: PPIC Statewide Survey; KQED Capital Notes, March 7.)

Public Policy Institute of California – Statewide Survey




All Likely Voters



Don't Know

Term Limits (Prop. 28)

Qualified for June

Proposition 28 is called the "Limits on Legislators' Terms in Office. Initiative Constitutional Amendment." If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 28?




Tobacco Tax Increase (Prop. 29)

Qualified for June

Proposition 29 is called the "Imposes Additional Tax on Cigarettes for Cancer Research, Initiative Statute." If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 29?




Water Bond

Qualified for November

If the election were being held tomorrow, would you vote yes or no on the $11.1 billion state water bond?




Governor's Tax Increase

Gathering Signatures for November

Governor Brown has proposed a tax initiative for the November ballot titled the "Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment." If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on the proposed tax initiative?




Source: PPIC Statewide Survey, March 2012


In other election news:

Teachers' Union Slams Initiative Backed by Other Teachers' Union. The California Teachers Association (CTA) released a statement March 8 bashing the California Federation of Teachers' (CFT) initiative to increase taxes on millionaires. CTA President Dean Vogel said the CFT measure would "only make matters worse for funding public education and essential public services in California."

The March 8 release stated: "CTA is equally concerned that all the research shows that having three funding initiatives confuses voters and weakens support for raising the revenues our students, schools and communities desperately need. It's time for everyone to come together and support the only initiative that is designed to put our state back on the road to recovery. Governor Brown's initiative will do just that. His proposal to tax the wealthy has the support of CTA and other labor, community and business groups, which is the type of widespread support it is going to take to pass any funding initiative. Unless we all get behind this initiative, everyone loses."

March 9, 2012
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