SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) – As a stalemate continues in the state capital over California Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget, a new poll finds that a majority of Californians support a special election to let voters decide whether to extend tax increases to help close California’s massive budget deficit.

The Field Poll released Wednesday said most registered voters surveyed also support closing the state’s $26.6 billion budget deficit through a mix of tax increases and spending cuts, but are still reluctant to specify which state programs would support cutting.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

The state Assembly and Senate both were scheduled to vote on the budget package Wednesday afternoon, although there was no sign the Democratic governor had struck a deal with Republicans over his plan to cut about $12.5 billion in spending and ask voters in a June special election to extend sales, income and vehicle taxes.

If all Democrats approve the plan, it would need at least two Republican votes in each house to pass.

KCBS’ Phil Matier:

Lawmakers already missed Brown’s previous deadline to pass a package by last week, putting in jeopardy his plan to hold a special election in June, before the final taxes expire.

The Field Poll found 58 percent of registered voters said they would vote to maintain the taxes for five additional years as Brown has proposed if such an election were held today; 39 percent opposed the taxes and said they would vote to return them to previous levels.

A slightly higher margin of would-be voters said they prefer the Democratic governor’s approach of a ballot measure over letting the Legislature act to solve the budget deficit alone.

But California’s infamously fickle voters proved true to their conflicted nature, professing support for deep cuts but balking at areas of state spending where they could be made. The poll found support for cutting just two out of 14 areas of state government spending: courts and prisons. Voters strongly opposed cutting money for public schools, law enforcement, health care for low-income and disabled Californians, higher education, child care and mental health programs.

Republican leaders have refused to let the tax vote move forward and face increasing pressure from conservatives within their party.

Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, on Tuesday called the budget plan “just another short-sighted tax-and-spend scheme.”

“It does nothing to fix the state’s budget crisis or put Californians back to work. The Democrats say, ‘Let the people vote,’ but what the Democrats really want is for the people to pay for government as usual,” he said.

Brown said Tuesday he is particularly troubled by a conservative faction within the state Republican party that wants to label as a traitor any lawmaker who votes for the governor’s plan.

“Unfortunately, now the more extreme elements of the Republican party are about to brand any Republican legislator a terrorist and some evil being if they give the people the right to vote,” Brown said. “And if it comes to a situation in America where letting the people vote becomes an act of terrorism, we’re in a very serious situation when a major party thinks that way.”

The state GOP is scheduled to hold its spring convention in Sacramento this weekend. Republican lawmakers who might be inclined to compromise on the budget are reluctant to do so ahead of the convention, where they would be ostracized by party leaders and die-hard conservatives.

The Field Poll also found voters oppose Brown’s proposal to transfer taxes collected for two programs to the state’s general fund: about $1 billion for early childhood development programs collected under Prop. 10 and about $861 million in taxes for mental health services collected under Prop. 63.

The poll surveyed 898 registered voters by landline and cellular telephone from Feb. 28 through March 14. The poll has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (13)
  1. Deborah Phillips says:

    It seems to be the lesser of many evils. I HATE it that the CA legislature won’t “allow” the citizens to vote on this. What are we, infants? or imbeciles?

  2. william says:

    How many of the people who were polled actually pay taxes in california? the statistics are clear that less tham 50 % of californians actually pay income tax.

  3. Deborah Phillips says:

    I’m taxpayer and owner of small business which pays taxes

  4. Susan says:

    From just reading the newspaper and listening to news reports, it seems that the Republican party wants to dismantle the public school system. If so, you can be sure they have found a new way to make a lot of money for themselves. They won’t be happy until they own it all!

  5. rs says:

    i would vote for it. we’re already paying it. the republicans are trying to make us all believe that it will raise taxes but in reality, it’s maintaining what we are already paying. i think we have the right to vote on it and the repubs need to back off.
    @william- i don’t know where you got that statistic from but i pay my taxes and so does everyone i know.

  6. Ken says:

    the republican Party in Washington and in Sacramento wish to restrict “We the People” from our RIGHT

  7. Ken says:

    The Republican Party in Sacramento and Washington DC wish to keep “We the People” from our RIGHT TO VOTE”. In doing so, they join the Dictators past and
    present that wish the same. The list is long and incliudes, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot,
    Gadaphi, Edi Amin, Amendinajad, and now the U.S. Republican Party . I will
    remain “DECLINE TO STATE” in my VOTING REGRISTRATION so long as these
    Oligarchical Prostitutes continue to exist. GOD HELP US ALL.

  8. mechanic says:

    Big mistake!

  9. Tom says:

    I have questions about the poll.

    How many voters were polled?
    How many identified themselves as democrat/liberal, republican/conservative, dem/conserv, rep/liberal, centrist, or other?
    How were the questions phrased?
    Where was the polled conducted?
    How was the polled conducted?

    I have these questions because poll questions can worded to obtain answers that are desired on either side of the issue. They can also be worded to get responders to feel guilty about their answers or to influence them in a way so they don’t look mean or look like bleeding hearts.

  10. bob in sj says:

    I’m a tax payer and I support keeping taxes where they are! Let us vote.