EdMedia Commons Archive

New California Poll Finds Voters Want More Ed Funding, Question Government’s Role

Professor Dominic Brewer, vice dean of the USC Rossier School of Education, will be answering questions throughout the day via EdMedia Commons. Please post your questions in the comments section of this discussion thread. The full poll results, methodology, and analysis are available below.

By Mikhail Zinshteyn, EWA

If California Gov. Jerry Brown is to be successful in convincing state voters to approve his package of tax increases to stave off additional budget cuts, he’ll have to try harder.

A new PACE/USC Rossier Poll suggests likely voters in California have lingering doubts about the government’s ability to reverse the state’s fiscal course, hanging a millstone around the governor who is in full campaign mode to push through Proposition 30. The November ballot initiative, if passed, would raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent for four years and taxes on incomes above $250,000 for seven years.

Revenue from the tax package would raise $8 billion in its first year, plugging a $5 billion hole in public K-12 spending and $500 million in the state’s two public university systems.

Of those polled, 55 percent support Proposition 30 versus 36 percent who oppose it. But when Californians were asked to compare arguments for and against the measure, 49 percent agreed politicians should cut wasteful spending before raising taxes, while 35 percent believed voters “should take a stand against further cuts to schools and public safety, make the wealthy pay their fair share, and help balance the budget.”

Dan Schnur, director of USC’s Institute of Politics, said in a press statement, “Jerry Brown can still pass Proposition 30, but first he has to convince voters the state government can be trusted with their tax dollars.”

The poll also explored attitudes about education reform topics, showing results that suggest Californians are struggling to reconcile new ideas with current standards. Just over half of likely voters said there should be an online component to a child’s education in addition to time spent with a teacher. Still, 83 percent oppose replacing teachers with technology.

Old assumptions about vocational training were evident in the polling data. While nine out of 10 likely voters said students should have career-ready skills upon graduating from high school, 48 percent felt career-training is for students “who don’t do well in school.” Over three-quarters of those polled agree with the statement, “Some students just aren’t good at academic subjects.”

If the tax increases are not approved, Californians would choose to cut transportation funding for students, increase class sizes, and shorten the school year before cutting sports and music programs or lowering teacher pay.

The PACE/USC Rossier Poll surveyed 1,041 Californians online between Aug. 3 and 7. The margin of error was +/- 3.0 percentage points.

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.