Gov. Jerry Brown has been emphatic that if Proposition 30 fails in November, billions of dollars in cuts to public education are coming. He’s made that linkage so hard, in fact, that KXTV political editor and longtime Sacto observer John Myers once likened his Yes on 30 efforts to the famous National Lampoon cover in which the magazine threatened to shoot a dog if you didn’t buy the issue.
So is the public buying it?
On that front, a poll released Thursday shows mixed results.
Support for the measure is roughly the same since the last poll in July — 51 percent of voters in favor, 36 percent opposed. Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo told KQED’s Scott Shafer this morning that “They’re treading water, but at a rate that is not all that comfortable. But still there’s not a lot of evidence that their ‘yes’ side vote is deteriorating over time.”
However, an increasing number of undecided voters could turn out to be bad news for the measure. In July, 8 percent of voters were undecided; today’s poll shows 13 percent unsure.
“It’s our experience that if you don’t convince undecided voters, especially in the late going, to whatever it is you’re trying to get them to do, they tend to vote no more often than yes,” said DiCamillo.
The Field Poll also shows another tax initiative, Prop. 38 — which would also finance education — at 41 percent of voters in favor, 44 percent opposed and 15 percent undecided. That’s up 8 percent since July.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that DiCamillo says voters are beginning to assess the two competing measures:
“I think people are starting to hear campaign claims and they’re getting the fact that there are two different things,” he said. “If I’m for the schools, which one do I go with? I think that’s really what’s happening.”
He said the poll results are still an early measure of voters’ attitudes.
“Once voters get the actual ballot pamphlets from the registrar of voters … that’s really when the rubber is meeting the road. We’re still not there yet,” he said.
Another poll, from the Public Policy Institute of California, found similar support for Prop. 30. It also found less than 50 percent support for Prop. 38.this recent visit to the San Jose Mercury News editorial board. Prop. 30 includes a .25 percent increase in the sales tax, lasting four years and an income tax hike for those making more than $250,000 a year, lasting seven years.
If Prop. 30 fails, trigger cuts totaling $6 billion to education will kick in, with most of those coming out of K-12.
The governor has consistently pounded home the message that he has no other choice about what to do if Prop. 30 fails. When the Merc’s editorial board editor Barbara Marshall tried to question him on his tactics, she was cut off.
“Some critics feel as though you’ve skewed the trigger cuts to education to increase pressure to pass … ” Marshall started off.
“And that’s absolutely untrue!” Brown said, “This is the only place left.” He went on to detail still more cuts the state has already enacted — to In-Home Supportive Services, moving children from Healthy Families to Medi-Cal (“no one likes that” he said), fewer fish and game wardens, his list went on.
In his report this morning, Scott Shafer cited DiCamillo’s analysis that younger voters could be a driver for the education props. But while young voters, along with Latinos and African-Americans, are big backers of Prop. 30, they’re all less likely to vote. “And so the fate of both Props. 30 and 38 could rest on whether the presidential election motivates minorities and younger voters to cast their ballots,” Shafer said.