Today’s new LA Times/USC poll – showing that California voters both want government workers to give up some retirement benefits to help ease the state’s financial problems, and also agree with and want to vote upon Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to continue current tax rates to help close the state budget deficit – is taking fire from both sides.
Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security – a coalition representing 1.5 million public employees and retirees – said:
“Sadly, this survey demonstrates that Californians are being misled about public employee pensions by special interests seeking to undermine the middle class. California public employees’ contributions to their pensions have climbed from 5 percent to 7 to 10 percent. They are increasing their share of their pension contribution, saving $400 million last year alone in the state budget, and negotiating at the bargaining table in hundreds of jurisdictions around the state right now. Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton even declares: ‘State employee pensions are not to blame for Sacramento’s budget deficit. Not by any math.’
“Meanwhile, despite headlines about the tiny fraction of abuses of the system, the reality is that the average public pension in California is about $26,000 and many retirees are receiving less than $1,000 a month to pay their bills after decades of service teaching our children, protecting our families and keeping our homes safe. Many do not receive social security. Given facts unclouded by politically motivated deception, Californians will reject attempts to weaken the middle class and target retirement security for public workers living on modest incomes.”
Meanwhile, California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said:
“This poll is a trial lawyer’s dream, judging by the way the respondents were systematically led to the conclusion that higher taxes are the only ‘reasonable’ solution to California’s budget crisis. Jerry Brown’s claim that his budget plan produces $14 billion in cuts is pure fiction and any attempt to use that figure as the major focus for polling is completely disingenuous.”
“The analysis makes it clear: the bills Governor Brown signed total only $7 billion in cuts, and $7.5 billion in funding shifts, cutbacks to planned spending, and other budget gimmicks. On the other hand, there’s no disputing that Jerry’s tax plan calls for $60 billion in new taxes over the next five years while his spending plan will increase the state budget by 30% over the next three years. If the participants had been given all the facts, instead of a few leading questions, this poll would’ve turned out quite differently.
“Even with misleading data and skewed sampling, this poll still could only produce the barest of majorities to agree with its flawed premise, a figure that will not hold up in any true election.”