This is only a state poll of Californians, but the dynamic is all-American. A Los Angeles Times/USC Poll shows that voters favor cuts to balance the budget — but loudly object to most of the cuts that could possibly be made.
Voters have “a great bias toward spending cuts” rather than tax hikes, said Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, who co-directed the poll for The Times and the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. “But when you get into it, they don’t want to cut the areas that matter.”
Only one in four voters favored trimming elementary and high schools, which make up almost 42% of state general fund spending. Just over one-third approved of cuts to state colleges and universities, or, separately, to state-financed health care for children or the poor, the poll found. The only state-financed enterprise that voters favored chopping was the prison system, which more than 70% of voters wanted to cut either minimally or by a large amount.
“Their priorities are incompatible with resolving the deficit situation,” said Republican pollster Linda DiVall the survey’s other co-director.
When asked which taxes should be raised if increases were required, 39% of Californians said none—a statement agreed to by 59% of Republicans and 25% of Democrats. Hiking the biggest current source of state revenues, the personal income tax, was an unpopular solution; only 6% favored that. Only 14% cited increasing the sales tax, currently the second-ranking source of state revenues. The top suggested source was an oil extraction tax, at 17% overall.