Voters say California’s budget deficit is an “extremely serious” problem, a poll shows

(Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

Voters say California’s budget deficit is an “extremely serious” problem, a poll shows

California Politics

Taryn Luna

January 18, 2024

Half of California

registered voters

viewing the state’s budget deficit as an “extremely serious” problem, and


believe the state is headed in the wrong direction, according to a new poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

The survey was conducted days before Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled an overview of his $291.5 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year and plans to address the problems

A $37.9 trillion deficit

projected by his government. But grimly, Newsom’s deficit estimate is rosier than the Legislative Analyst’s Office’s December projection of a

$68 billion

budget hole.

“Voters are concerned about it, and they’re going to push the governor and the Legislature to do something about it,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley poll and a longtime pollster in California.

The state budget is dependent


on capital gains


taxes paid by California’s highest earners,

to make

state revenues are sensitive


stock market volatility.

Lower-than-expected revenues, delayed tax deadlines and overspending based on inaccurate budget forecasts created California’s grim financial picture.

The governor’s proposed solution includes declaring a budget emergency to draw on the state’s rainy day reserves; to cut

$8.5 billion

in expenditures from programs supporting climate change efforts, housing, and other services; and reconsidering a minimum wage increase for health care



pay raise.

When asked how they think California should make up for the deficit, a majority of voters say:

or 51%,

supporting cuts to government services, and


wants to use the rainy day fund. The less popular savings measures include:


of voters want to borrow from special funds.

The governor and voters appear to be united in their opposition to raising taxes


backed in the Berkeley poll.

California Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-San Jose) has proposed raising taxes under his proposed Wealth Tax Act, which would impose a 1.5% tax on wealth over $ 1 billion; and a 1% tax on net assets in excess of $50 million and an additional 0.5% tax on net assets in excess


$1 billion from 2026.

in 2026 and beyond.

The governor has repeatedly rejected the idea of ​​raising state taxes to make up for the shortfall.

DiCamillo said that while voters oppose raising taxes in general, they favor specific proposals that would raise taxes on the wealthy or anyone other than themselves. “Tax the rich, tax the corporations, but don’t raise my property taxes and don’t raise my income taxes,” DiCamillo said of Californians.

Support for taxes on the wealthy has laid the foundation for California’s progressive tax structure, which leads to wild revenue swings for the state, DiCamillo said.



The approval rating from the January poll remains unchanged


largely unchanged from late October, when voters cast their ballots

gave game

him historically low figures. This was evident from the latest poll


disapproval of his job performance as governor. Newsom leaves office in 2026, so he doesn’t have to worry about re-election.

in California.

The deficit creates a new political dilemma for Newsom as he is forced to make tough spending decisions during budget negotiations with lawmakers in coming months that could frustrate his allies and voters.

Environmental groups have reversed the governor’s nearly $3 billion in cuts to climate change programs. Other groups, such as the County Welfare Directors Assn.,


were concerned about cuts to social services.

Overall, voters showed little confidence in the state’s direction:


said California is going in the wrong direction and alone

a third

said things are going well, according to the poll.

The Berkeley IGS poll was conducted online Jan. 4-8 among a random sample of 8,199 registered voters in California, including a weighted subsample of 4,470 voters likely to participate in the March 5 primary.

The results are weighted to match census and voter registration benchmarks, so margin of error estimates may be inaccurate. The results have an estimated margin of error of 1.5 percentage points in either direction for the full sample.


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