How will Jerry Brown's big goals impact support for tax plan?
Gov. Jerry Brown's push for higher taxes could be complicated by two of his other central goals -- pension changes for public employees and the construction of a high-speed rail line.
Two recent Field Polls suggest that each issue may have an impact on whether Californians will vote to raise taxes in November. Brown wants to raise the sales tax by a quarter cent for four years and levies on the wealthy by one to three percentage points for seven years. Without higher taxes, he said, there will be automatic cuts to public schools totaling billions of dollars.
The Field Poll released Tuesday said pension changes won't affect how 54% of likely voters view Brown's tax plan. But it also suggested that curtailing public worker benefits could shore up support -- 21% of voters who already favor Brown's tax plan said they would be even more likely to support higher taxes.
Brown's proposal would, among other changes, force public employees to contribute more toward their pensions and it would raise the retirement age for future employees.
The governor has been negotiating with Democratic lawmakers, and he said their proposal is inadequate and does not save enough money. They have promised to finish working on a plan in August when the Legislature returns from its summer break.
A Field Poll released last week on high-speed rail said voter opposition to Brown's tax plan may be hardened because the Legislature approved $8 billion in federal funding and state bonds for the bullet train and related projects.
The poll said 48% of voters already against higher taxes would be even more likely to vote no because of high-speed rail funding. When it came to those already in favor of higher taxes, 21% of voters said the funding would hurt their support, while 17% said it would increase their support.
For his part, Brown said he can't pause the rest of his goals while pursuing his tax hikes.
"I'm not going to get scared and sit in a hole because some guy took a poll," he told reporters on Monday in Oakland.
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown walking in the halls of California's Capitol. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press