On Brown Budget, Californians Support Fiscal Restraint

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Following Governor Jerry Brown’s revised state budget announced last month, Californians weighed in on the proposal last week. The Public Policy Institute of California’s latest poll found broad support for Brown’s budget, which outlined some increased spending for K-12 education, but maintains a significant reserve of $1.1 billion to help combat future economic volatility.

Some Democrats have called for greater restoration for public programs like Medi-Cal and early childhood education, which Gov. Brown’s proposal doesn’t provide for. Nevertheless, a majority of Californians support fiscal restraint opposed to more spending.

The PPIC poll found:

“When asked about the tradeoff, a majority of Californians (55%) prefer paying down debt and building a reserve to restoring some funding for social service programs (39%). Likely voters are twice as likely to prefer reducing the debt (62%) to restoring funding to social services (32%).”

Additionally, 55 percent of independents reported preferring lower taxes and fewer services. The Legislative Analyst’s Office corroborated the Governor’s debt-reduction strategy last month stating, “building larger state budget reserves in the coming years is an important state priority.”

Lobbying for debt-reduction and larger reserves is likely to resonate with independent-minded voters. Fifty-six percent of independents were in favor of Gov. Brown’s revised budget, according to PPIC. However, he has yet to win over independents entirely.

When asked, “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that Jerry Brown is handling his job as governor of California?” Forty-five percent of independents said they approved of Brown’s job performance while 33 percent disapproved. Compared to 63 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans who approved, Brown’s statewide approval rating sits at 48 percent.

Independents were somewhat less optimistic of the state’s overall direction. Fifty-five percent felt the state was headed in the wrong direction. Additionally, 72 percent of Republicans were pessimistic about California’s future as well.

The deadline for a final budget plan is June 15, so whether or not Gov. Brown will strike a deal consistent with his proposal remains to be seen. Budget negotiations are notorious for failing to meet deadlines, but since the implementation of Proposition 25 in 2010, only a simple majority is required to pass a budget.