California voters don't want to raise taxes or cut spending, Times / USC poll finds
Californians object to increasing taxes in order to pare the state's massive budget deficit, and instead favor closing the breach through spending cuts. But they oppose cuts — and even prefer more spending — on programs that make up 85% of the state's general fund obligations, a new Los Angeles Times / USC Poll has found.
That paradox rests on Californians' firm belief that the state's deficit — estimated last week at nearly $25 billion over the next 18 months — can be squared through trimming waste and inefficiencies rather than cutting the programs they hold dear. Despite tens of billions of dollars that have been cut from the state budget in recent years, just a quarter of California voters believed that state services would have to be curtailed to close the deficit.
The findings offered scant guidance to the Legislature, outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrat Jerry Brown, who will become the chief executive in January, and for whom the gargantuan budget deficit looms as the primary focus of the coming year.
-- Cathleen Decker
Photo: Bunks are placed in open areas at Mule Creek State Prison. The California budget crisis has led to crowded conditions in the prisons, but voters want more cuts to corrections funding. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times