Will Californians Accept Higher Taxes? Depends.
Today the Public Policy Institute of California released a rich report in its PPIC Statewide Survey series – this one on California residents’ attitudes toward state and federal government. PPIC found that a majority of Californians are willing to pay higher taxes to maintain funding levels for K–12 public education (72%), followed by health and human services (57%) and higher education (57%). With a number of November ballot initiatives proposing tax increases, PPIC asked residents their views on specific taxes that could help maintain funding for government programs and reduce the budget deficit. Their findings include:
- 74% of adults in California strongly favor raising the top rate of state income tax paid by the wealthiest residents.
- 68% of adults favor raising taxes on California corporations—the highest level of support since PPIC first asked the question in 2005.
- 60% also favor the split roll property tax, which would tax commercial property at current market values rather than artificially low rates created by Proposition 13.
- But 54% of adults oppose the idea of extending the state sales tax to services that are not currently taxed and 69% oppose raising the state sales tax.
The survey asked specifically about Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed tax initiative. The initiative would raise revenue for K-12 education by temporarily increasing the state sales tax and the personal income taxes of wealthy Californians. A strong majority favor the proposal after reading a summary.
Lawyer and child advocate Molly Munger recently spoke with The Center for the Next Generation to explain how her proposed ballot initiative for California voters could rescue the state’s declining education system. She cites a state-wide poll by USC Dornsife College/L.A. Times with similar findings to PPIC; Munger's poll found 64% of registered voters are willing to pay higher taxes to improve school funding, as long as they are confident the money will be spent in their own communities.
Caveats like these are important to voters who are suspicious of government spending. PPIC writes:
Californians are far from happy with the way the state spends their money. Most (59% adults, 55% likely voters) believe state government could cut spending and still provide the same level of services. Most (59% adults, 62% likely voters) also favor strictly limiting the amount of money that state spending could increase each year.
Researchers are finding that residents want to continue funding key programs that support the state’s children and families—but with more accountability and less bureaucracy. It’s a tough challenge that each proposed ballot initiative seeks to overcome. The heartening point is that Californians from Sacramento to Los Angeles are seeking solutions and prioritizing the next generation.