Poll: May Ballot Measures a Bust

Special Election Nightmare

A new poll of California voters shows every single one of the Governor's budget reform measures would lose at the polls, if the special election were held today.

"Right now voters are telling us they're upset about the direction that the state's taking and their own personal finances," said Mark Baldassare, president and survey director of the Public Policy Institute of California. Baldassare added, "And voters are not happy about the job the Governor and the legislature is doing."

In fact, the approval numbers for the California legislature are at 11%, an all time record low, Baldassare noted. The eleven percent approval rating is even lower than Richard Nixon when he resigned from office.

It's becoming clear California voters don't like the messengers and are tuning out any message they are trying to sell - in this case, budget reform.

Prop 1A, the spending cap/tax increase measure finds only 39 % in favor, while 46% are opposed, according to a telephone survey of more than two thousand voters statewide, conducted this month by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Opponents are not celebrating yet, but they are certainly optimistic about the early numbers. "Our message is very simple," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "Proposition 1A is nothing more than a $16 billion tax increase masquerating as budget reform," he added.

Various spending or borrowing proposals under Props 1B,1C,1D and 1E are also losers according to the PPIC poll., which shows all of them falling below the 50% margin needed for voter approval. Only Prop 1F gets an overwhelming majority, wtih 81% in favor of blocking pay hikes for state lawmakers in deficit years.

The poll also shows Schwarzenegger's approval ratings are down to just 33% and for the first time a majority of Republicans are not happy with his job performance. That raises questions about how effective the Governor can be in his role as chief campaigner for the budget reform measures.

"You're going to see the Governor out there talking to folks about the importance of these measures," said Julie Soderlund, a spokesperson for Budget Reform Now.

The special election is still seven weeks away and anything can happen. Don't underestimate the financial resources and determination of proponents to sway public opinion through political ads and campaign events around the state.

"Today we've got about $4 million dollars in commitments," Soderlund declared today.  She added, "We're expecting that number to grow significantly over time."

But supporters will clearly have their work cut out for them.

Bottom line: if voters turn down the ballot measures, then California will have an additional $6 billion in debt, on top of the $8 billion that's currently on the books, for a total of $14 billion in the hole.

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