Voters pick sides on Gov. Jerry Brown's tax plan
The battle over Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax increases can be summed up by interviews with two Californians -- a 61-year-old retiree from Santa Cruz County and a 32-year-old mother of four from Riverside County.
The retiree is Tony Russomanno, who has stopped working after a successful business career. He knows Brown's plan would increase his taxes, and he's fine with that.
"It's important to give back," he said. "It's only fair."
Russomanno, a Democrat, scoffs at the warnings about rich people leaving the state if taxes go up.
“Where are they going to go? The Cayman Islands where their money is?" he said.
The mother is Tiffany Axene, who takes care of her small children and works at the family business, a health consulting company. A Republican, she won't vote for higher taxes.
“I’m just tired of seeing people who make money get taxed and taxed," she said. “It breaks my heart."
Brown's plan, listed as Proposition 30 on the ballot, would increase the sales tax by a quarter cent for four years and income taxes on the wealthy for seven years. If they don't pass, the governor said he would be forced to slash almost $6 billion in spending, with education bearing the brunt of the cuts.
The threat to public schools doesn't change Axene's opinion.
"They’re already cutting programs," she said. "What else is new?"
Russomanno and Axene were among 1,504 registered voters surveyed in a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, which showed Brown is holding onto shrinking support for his tax hike. Fifty-five percent said they favored the plan, down from 59% in May.
The poll also gauged how voters feel about the California Legislature, pension changes for public employees and a ballot initiative requiring special labeling for food with genetically engineered ingredients.
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Data for graph are from the September USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.