The California Paradox

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When people speak of "The French Paradox," they're referring to that pesky disconnect between the high fat diets of the people of France and their relatively low rates of heart disease.

But perhaps we need to promote our own paradox here in the Golden State... where we (the "collective" we) don't want to see major state programs slashed to balance the budget but also don't want to have our taxes go up.

This morning's Field Poll is the latest evidence of The California Paradox.

63% of registered voters who were surveyed said they want the current $15 billion budget shortfall resolved mainly through spending cuts.

And then they turned right around and took all the big ticket items off the table -- with strong opposition in cuts to public schools (80% against), health care programs for low-income Californians (77% against), higher education (71% against), law enforcement programs (71% against), child care programs (70% against), public transportation (67%)...

Shall I keep going?

As you might guess, that list represents the lion's share of state spending. The only spending cut the survey found even tepid acquiescence to a cut in prison spending. And even that idea was rejected by 50% of voters in the Field Poll.

Of course, the old "tax everybody but me" mentality returns in this new poll, when voters were asked specifically what tax hikes they'd support to prevent health care cuts (the poll was funded in part by the California HealthCare Foundation).

Smokers, drinkers, and rich people would all be thrown under the bus first. Business property taxes come next, with 56% of those surveyed saying they'd be ok with that (oddly enough, that conflicts with the Field Poll released yesterday that found only 47% approval of this same modification of the legendary Proposition 13).

In the end, the voters in this poll seem to admit that The California Paradox is impractical. So how do they think the pending budget mess will be cleaned up? 81% said they think the current budget mess will be solved through tax increases.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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