Capitol Alert

Poll finds California tax hike support varies by subject

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a rally in favor of Proposition 30, a tax increase initiative on the November 2012 ballot measure to stave off $6 billion in automatic spending cuts to schools.
Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a rally in favor of Proposition 30, a tax increase initiative on the November 2012 ballot measure to stave off $6 billion in automatic spending cuts to schools. AP

A new poll finds that nearly half of likely California voters favor temporarily extending Proposition 30’s sales and income tax hikes, but support falls to just 32 percent when asked if they should be made permanent.

The survey, released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California, found that a far higher number back the idea of boosting taxes on cigarettes. Some 66 percent of likely voters favor increasing tobacco taxes by an unspecified amount.

Meanwhile, 49 percent of likely voters are green lighting an extraction tax on oil and natural gas. Support for the theoretical oil tax rose above the 50-percent threshold among only liberals (59 percent), Democrats (58 percent) and residents of the San Francisco Bay Area (53 percent).

PPIC’s poll comes amid jostling by dozens of interest groups angling to place their priorities on next year’s statewide ballot. In addition to possible cigarette and oil tax measures, two high-powered coalitions in recent weeks have introduced variations of a Proposition 30 extension, though both focus only on income taxes and allow the sales-tax hike to expire.

A group led by the California Teachers Association and the Service Employees International Union wants to extend the Proposition 30 income taxes to 2030, raising an estimated $7 billion to $9 billion a year for K-14 schools.

The other proposal, from the California Hospital Association and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, would expand to higher earners the current income tax hikes – and make them permanent. The roughly $10 billion in annual revenue would go to schools and health care.

The survey asked specifically about extending Proposition 30, which raised taxes on individuals earning more than $250,000 for seven years and boosted sales taxes by a quarter cent on the dollar for four years. Approved in 2012, those taxes pay for schools and guarantee funding for public safety realignment.

Both pending ballot measures would allow the expiration in 2016 of the sales tax increase in Proposition 30.

PPIC also gauged support for various other issues, finding:

▪  55 percent of likely voters favor changing Proposition 13 so commercial properties are taxed according to their market value.

▪  70 percent of likely voters support changing the pension system for new public employees from defined benefits to a 401(k)-style plan.

▪  69 percent of state residents believe the government should not interfere with a woman’s access to abortion.

▪  75 percent of residents say unauthorized immigrants should be allowed to live and work here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements.

▪  68 of residents say the government should do more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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