Prop. 1A’s union foes: Voters OK with tax hikes

As I noted yesterday, we’ll now have a post-special-election period of argument over what the election results mean.

The No on Prop. 1A campaign today released the results of a poll – a David Binder Research survey of 1,008 voters, 603 of whom voted in the special election and 405 of whom did not, conducted May 16-20 – that they say belies the “it’s all spending cuts from here” meme in Sacramento.

“The lesson to take from this… is that voters are willing to look at tax increases, this mantra were hearing that ‘no new taxes’ is absolutely the way California needs to go forward is not supported by our data,” Binder said on a conference call with reporters a short while ago.

That is, when asked, “Which of the following best describes your opinion about the special election?,” 69 percent chose “It was an example of the Governor and the legislature balancing the budget on the backs of average Californians instead of asking their special interest contributors to do their share to help out” while 19 percent chose “The Governor and legislature are asking all Californians to share the pain equally as the state deals with this budget crisis” and 12 percent didn’t know.

And when asked “Which one of the following approaches would you like the leaders of state government to take in dealing with the state budget’s shortfall?,” 29 percent chose “State government should rely entirely on spending cuts with no tax increases” while 65 percent chose “Shared responsibility, with some tax increases” and 6 percent didn’t know.

Lots more poll results, and some opposing viewpoints, after the jump…

Other poll findings, according to Binder’s memo:

  • 75 percent support increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages (62 percent among ‘No on 1A’ voters)
  • 74 percent support increasing taxes on tobacco (62 percent among ‘No’ voters)
  • 73 percent support “imposing an oil extraction tax on oil companies just like every other oil producing state” (60 percent among ‘No’ voters)
  • 63 percent support “closing the loophole that allows corporations to avoid reassessment of the value of new property they purchase” (58 percent among ‘No’ voters)
  • 63 percent support “increasing the top bracket of the state income tax from 9.3 percent to 10 percent for families with taxable income over $272,000 a year and to eleven percent for families with taxable incomes over $544,000 a year (51 percent among ‘No’ voters)
  • 59 percent support prohibiting corporations from using tax credits to offset more than fifty percent of the taxes they owe (55 percent among ‘No’ voters)
  • Perhaps not the most neutral survey language, but No on 1A’s union backers take the results to mean it’s time to ratchet up pressure on the Legislature and Republicans to raise taxes.

    “We believe the major message from the polling is that its critical… is that we not jump the gun and go out there and just make more mistakes,” said California Faculty Association President Lillian Taiz, adding voters want “no more smoke and mirrors” but rather “fair solutions – everyone should chip in and make this state work.” She said the poll’s release marks the start of “a serious campaign to educate the legislators and build the momentum” for a mixed taxes-and-cuts solution.

    California Federation of Teachers President Marty Hittelman said “the message the voters sent was they were opposed to this artificial cap on spending … They want real solutions.”

    And AFSCME International Political Action Assistant Director Willie Pelote Sr. said the results “send a crystal-clear message that voters want the governor and Legislature to stop balancing the budget on the backs of average Californians.” The election’s extremely low turnout demonstrates the vote wasn’t driven by anti-tax fervor, but rather that voters are tired of “gimmicks and special elections.”

    “It is time to listen to the voters and not the right-wing pundits,” Pelote said. “Get back to work and get the budget done that clearly reflects what the voters asked for.”

    Meanwhile, conservatives insist exactly the opposite – that the vote demonstrates Californians believe they’re overtaxed already and won’t countenance any further increases, preferring instead to make deeper cuts in the budget.

    Jon Flesichman, a vice-chairman of the state GOP and founder and publisher of FlashReport.org, wrote yesterday that foremost among the winners in Tuesday’s election are “all of us — the taxpayers – who sent a strong message to politicians with their lopsided rejection of Propositions 1A-1E, and even with their approval of 1F. We have asserted our primacy in a democratic republic, and have sent a clear message – they aren’t paying any more taxes!”

    And state GOP Chairman Ron Nehring today issued a statement saying that “(i)f there is one thing Californians need to know about Republicans’ reaction to the special election, it is this: they’ve heard you and are taking action.

    “Yesterday, we saw Governor Schwarzenegger, Assembly Republican Leader-elect Sam Blakeslee, and Senate Republican leader Dennis Hollingsworth speak candidly about the way forward for California through this budget crisis, Nehring said. “They were clear and unified in their understanding – we must restore Californians’ confidence by ending waste, fraud, and mismanagement, and making the difficult but necessary decisions to get us through this crisis and plan for the future without asking for more from the taxpayers.”

    Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

    • hilltopper

      I doubt that the anti-tax fanatics of today’s California republican party will be satisfied until the delta levies fail (as in New Orleans) and some bridges collapse (as in Minneapolis). They would seem to prefer to have poor children die than to get emergency health treatments. And they prefer letting poachers destroy the wildlife in our parks ( as the Gov. lays off more game wardens).

      Californians believe in responsible government. That requires revenue increases as well as cuts of some services. The “shut it down” tyranny by 35% of the legislature is anti-democratic and needs to end.

    • Elwood

      hilltopper Says: etc. etc. etc.

      Gee, I wonder why Props. A through E weren’t passed with whopping majorities if only 35% oppose tax increases.

      It would seem that only about 35% of the electorate feels the same way as hilltopper. What next? Plagues of locusts?

      The 2/3 requirement is the only thing protecting us from people like hilltopper.

      Children dying in the streets? Riiiiiiiight! It’s the end of the world as we’ve known it!


    • ulno13

      I think it’s time to get government out of education and other areas. Instead of having people directly employed by the state, private companies can provide those services. If the state wants to send each citizen cash they can spend on it, then this would meet the demands of those who say public education is a right. The families could spend it with the private provider who does the best job.

      I think this should be applied to other areas, such as the motor vehicles department, etc. Private providers.

      State-run agencies have no incentive system to improve, offer non-market based benefits, and have no feedback system for control. The state and media are eternally able to say “it’s for the kids! You can’t be against more taxes to save children” malarky. It’s an eternal hostage situation that ends with the economic ruin of everyone involved.

      I agree with Elwood, it’s really amazing how these out of touch reporters are able to trot out their fixed polls to justify taxes. When the people vote one way, they don’t really mean it, or they are stupid, or having a temper tantrum. When the people vote another, democracy has triumphed at last! Ha ha.

    • hilltopper

      Elwood says: “I wonder why Props. A through E weren’t passed with whopping majorities if only 35% oppose tax increases.”

      Most progressives opposed these propositions (as did I). Did you know that “liberal bastions” like Alameda, San Francisco, and Marin Counties voted overwhelmingly “no”?

    • Elwood

      21st century definition of progressive:

      “I’ll take your money and give it to someone whom I deem underprivileged. I get to decide because I’m smarter and morally superior to you!”

    • John W

      While income and sales taxes in the state are high, part of our problem is that the tax base needs to be broader. We rely on a fairly narrow slice of wealthy taxpayers for income tax revenue. And, due to Prop. 13, we rely heavily on more recent homebuyers to fill the property tax bucket. We could have a flat 6% income tax rate, with no deductions, with all but the very lowest income people contributing and generate more revenue. We could lower the property tax rate from 1% to .75%, make every residential and commerical property reassess every 7 years and generate more revenue. There could still be breaks for low income people, elderly or otherwise. Under Prop. 13, the effective property tax rate for residential is only about .5% (according to the Homebuilders Ass’n) due to so many homes under long-term Prop. 13 protection. And, no, they are not all house rich, cash-poor grannies who would lose their homes if they paid property taxes. I don’t understand why somebody gets to inherit their parents’ home in Alamo, free and clear of mortgage, with no inheritance tax, and still get to pay property tax tied to 1978 assessments while a modest income family purchasing their first starter home pays through the nose. I suspect the effective rate on commercial property is even lower.

    • jon k

      So hilltopper, how is it that California is the most taxed state in the country and we are looking at bankruptcy. Does this not prove that the liberal high tax big government policies do not work. Government is inefficient, ineffective, and wasteful. There is no incentive for goverment entities to excel at their job. Oh, and if the levies are so critical (which I agree they are), why is there no stimulus money for the levies to be fixed?

    • Elwood


      1. an embankment designed to prevent the flooding of a river.


      1. an imposing or collecting, as of a tax, by authority or force.