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Poll: Fears of school cuts stir support for budget plan

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Fear of teacher layoffs and other cuts to public schools is leading a majority of Californians to support some combination of spending cuts and taxes in order to close the state's $26 billion budget gap, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released today.

A majority of likely voters – 61 percent – support the general framework of Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to fill the budget hole with a combination of spending cuts and new revenues. But the poll also shows an electorate that is still very divided over what those revenues should be.

A majority of adults opposes raising sales and income taxes, but more than two-thirds of adults support raising taxes on the state's wealthiest earners.

A majority also said they would support local bond measures to pay for school construction projects, and 59 percent said they would support local parcel taxes in order to help fund schools. Since Proposition 26 passed last year, new taxes and fees must now be passed with a two-thirds vote, leaving support for parcel taxes well short of the required threshold.

"Californians' support for maintaining K–12 spending remains strong. It is a significant factor for the state's leaders to take into account in any proposals that they put before voters this year," institute President and CEO Mark Baldassare said in a statement. "Residents are worried about the toll that reduced spending is having on the quality of K–12 public education, and public school parents are noticing the impact of state budget cuts on their children's schools."

The poll, which was funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (also a major donor to California Watch), focuses largely on parents' attitudes toward education in the state.

Among other things, it seems to show that voters are supportive of school reform measures. A majority of Californians said they believe teacher salaries should be tied to performance – a rallying cry for school reformers that has been picking up momentum in other states.

The poll also shows that voters overwhelmingly prefer having local control over their schools. That view fits closely with Brown's desire to give local governments more control over critical services – perhaps one reason why his approval rating rose to 40 percent in this poll from 34 percent last month.



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Flash Political's picture
Just think of the great lesson we will be teaching our children by allowing these cuts and dealing appropriately with a bloated budget.
yehlingling's picture
I am an immigrant who used to prepare immigration applications for 10 years. Instead of cutting school programs and raise taxes on struggling working families, Gov. Jerry Brown should ask the State Legislature and Congress to require that naturalized citizens be billed for the welfare costs, given to the relatives they had brought to the U.S. Some immigrants are tremendous assets to the U.S. However, in 2002 alone, according to Census data, legal immigrant-headed households in California received welfare, cash and non-cash, costing $6 billion! If Gov. Schwarzenegger had heeded my advice given in "Advice on Immigration to the Immigrant Governor-Elect," published in the San Francisco Chronicle on 11/16/2003, California would not have been in such a severe fiscal mess. California leaders should stop burrying their heads in the sand and should work on U.S. population stabilization. Yeh Ling-Ling Executive Director Alliance for a Sustainable USA
Calnative's picture
First off Extending our current TAXES is not Raising Taxes! People need to get that into their thick heads. We currently are already paying the taxes Jerry Brown wants to continue having us pay them which makes sense given we are already paying them! You will noticed that the people calling for Performance Based Teacher pay etc is being shouted from the rooftops that belong to people who have never set foot in a classroom in any teaching role period. You move to performance based pay scale for teachers and this is what happens. #1 Public schools do not hand pick their student body there for teachers work with what has been given to them. You start paying teachers based on performance based on some type of made up metric and you will have all the good teachers who haven't migrated to better schools with more parent and student involvement already - you'll have a massive stampede of top teachers leaving low performing schools seeking schools with better students. Or you'll simply have math and science teachers deciding that being a Lawfirm File Clerk is better pay and working conditions and move on. Not counting the teachers who will decide making 2-4X the income working in the business world with their solid skills in Math and Science is far far more rewarding than being bashed and paid beans in the classroom. The number one issue with CA right now are voters who have zero clue as to why CA has programs which are over funded due to assigned tax revenue and other programs that are under funded and have no way of being fixed with the over funded revenue left sitting unused. The Voters set up the problem Sacramento can't change it without the voter, but when the issue is presented to the voters they are too uninformed to make the right decision. Just a big vicious circle with no end in sight. Till Sacramento figures out how to teach the voters what it is they need to decide on nothing will change. California's issue is the lack of informed voters, voting for things based on TV Media baloney. If voters actually read and were taught what it is they are reading and voting on in CA - I would bet money on it that CA would be in a very different position today.

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