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Support for Gov's tax-hike proposal cools

March 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Most Californians agree the state's budget deficit is a huge problem, but that doesn't mean they want to pay more taxes. A new poll measures public sentiment about Governor Jerry Brown's tax initiative on the November ballot.

Support for Governor Brown's tax measure is waning as he tries to get Californians to go along with temporarily raising the personal income tax on high-wage earners, while also raising the sales tax to balance the state budget.

The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll shows it's barely getting majority support, at 52 percent, way down from January when it was 68 percent.

"Once people understand that this could be, if we do this right, this could be the last year of deficit in California, that those poll numbers will go up," said state Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

"We believe it's more important to come up with a realistic budget, rather than ones fabricated around a tax increase that's not going to pass," said state Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar).

The new numbers are giving momentum to a competing measure, the "Millionaire's Tax," which thousands of protesting college students called for Monday as a way to stop further cuts to higher education.

A new internal poll by that plan's backers, Restore California, shows ot would beat the governor's tax initiative even after a slew of negative attack ads; 64 percent still supported a permanent tax on the wealthy. The governor's tax dips to 46 percent, and a third measure, from Our Children, Our Future, that would raise the income tax on almost all workers, hardly registers a blip.

Supporters of the governor's plan are worried the Millionaire's Tax goes directly to schools and social programs at the county level, doing nothing to help the state budget deficit, leaving other programs vulnerable to cuts.

"To us, representing 35,000 physicians and the patients they serve, it would not solve the massive cuts that have been made in the Medi-Cal program," said Dustin Corcoran, California Medical Association.

Brown told the Sacramento Bee editorial board Thursday that the Millionaire's Tax will siphon votes from his own measure, which he says will almost ensure all will fail.

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