As legislators grapple with the state’s current fiscal crisis, Adam Summers’ report looks back at the policy decisions that led to this point. Analyzing the budgets and spending patterns of previous three governors, he asserts that excessive spending (not lack of revenue) is to blame for the state’s historic budget deficit, and makes recommendations for reform.
While Governor Schwarzenegger’s approval ratings have now declined to nearly the lowest level of his time in office, he may take some solace from the fact that there appears to be little public appetite for a recently-launched effort by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association to recall him. Schwarzenegger’s approval ratings are now at 38%, according to a new Field Poll, which is just two points higher than his previous low point, in August 2005 (when he had 36% approval). However, when news of recall efforts against Gray Davis first surfaced in April 2003, his approval ratings were at 24%. According to the new poll, 63% of registered voters statewide say that they would vote against any effort to recall Schwarzenegger were it to appear on the ballot. 46% of registered voters in April 2003 said that they would vote to recall Gray Davis.
Another new Field Poll shows attitudes of registered voters about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger continuing to show a decline trend, with the governor now at 46% disapproval and 40% approval, the lowest rating that he has had since April 2006. The governor’s only consolation may be that voter attitudes about the Legislature are even worse, with 57% disapproval and 27% approval (the worst rating since October 2005). 68% of registered voters now say that they consider the state’s budget situation to be “very serious,” but 41% and 52% of registered voters also express “not much” optimism about the ability of the governor and the Legislature respectively to resolve the situation (up from 29% and 40% in December 2007).
The PPIC survey mentioned in the last post also asked Californians to assess the performance of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and of the state legislature. Californians are increasingly unhappy with the governor’s performance — 48% disapproving and 41% approving (a decline in 16 points in approval from December 2007). The legislature’s approval rating is much lower, at 26%.
In a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, Governor Schwarzenegger’s approval ratings have slipped to 44%, which is down 6 points since January and 13 points since December. The governor’s lowest approval rating was 33%, which was in October 2005.
Approval of the legislature among Californians is down to 30%.
The state’s budget woes, which have been heavily featured in the news lately, are a source of particular concern among Californians, according to the PPIC poll. 68% say that the budget situation is a “big problem.” 56% say that they are “very concerned” about the effects of spending reductions in the governor’s latest budget proposal. 42% prefer a mix of budget cuts and tax increases to deal with the budget crisis. In general, Californians are extremely pessimistic about the way things are going nationally — 73% say that things are going in the wrong direction, the highest point in the 10-year history of the PPIC poll in which this question has been asked.
The poll also asks about Proposition 98, the eminent domain initiative on the June ballot that would restrict or eliminate rent control in jurisdictions in which it is now in effect. 41% of likely voters say that they would vote against Proposition 98. 37% say that they would vote for it. Proposition 99, a competing initiative that would supersede Proposition 98 if it got more votes on the June ballot, garners 53-27% support.
Yet another in a series of year-end Field Polls indicates that registered California voters view the looming $14-15 billion state budget deficit as either a “very serious” (58%) or a “somewhat serious” (32%) problem. A slightly larger ratio of Democrats than republicans view the deficit as a “very serious problem,” and a slightly larger ratio of Republicans than Democrats see it as a “somewhat serious” problem, although a majority of registered voters in both parties see it as a “very serious” problem.
When asked whether taxes will ultimately need to be raised to help resolve the budget deficit, those in favor of and opposed to taxes tend to split on party lines, with 54-37% of Democrats and voters not identifying with any major party expressing the view that taxes will have to be raised. Republican voters by a margin of 55-36% express the view that taxes will not have to be raised.
Another question asked whether Californians think that existing taxes are too high. 29% think that taxes are “much too high,” and 28% think that they are “somewhat high.” The ratio of voters saying that taxes are “much too high” has tended within the range of 28-32% over most of the last 15 years; the last time that the ratio was over 32% was in 1991, when 38% said that they thought that taxes were “much too high.”
The governor’s approval ratings continue to be high, with 60% of voters saying that they approve of his performance and 31% saying that they disapprove. Although Democrats approve of Schwarzenegger’s performance less than Republicans, a majority of 55% of Democrats nonetheless approves. Schwarzenegger’s approval ratings have been more or less on the upswing since April 2006, when his approval was at 39%. (His lowest approval rating was in August 2005, when the number approving was 36%). The governor’s current approval rating is four points higher than when the question was last asked in October.