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CA voters OK with taxes to support public schools, new poll says

LA School Report | August 27, 2015

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proposition 30A new poll shows that California voters would support reauthorization of Proposition 30, a 2012 measure that raised taxes to support public education.

The survey by PACE/USC Rossier School of Education Poll shows 63 percent of voters favor extending at least one provision of Prop. 30 — the tax increase on high incomes or the sales tax hike or both. Only 28 percent of voters said both fiscal provisions should be allowed to expire, the poll showed.

Prop. 30 temporarily increased the state sales tax by a quarter cent and the personal income tax rate on people earning more than $250,000 a year to fund public education and other government programs. It expires at the end of 2016.

“Since the inception of this poll in 2012, we have identified valuable trends that not only reflect the opinions of the state’s voters but also influence policymakers in Sacramento,” said USC Rossier School Dean Karen Symms Gallagher. “The latest results indicate a growing confidence in our public school system as voters are clearly willing to provide greater financial support to education.”

Six in 10 voters said California should be spending more on schools, as opposed to 26 percent who said the state’s public schools have enough money, the poll showed.

Voters were less enthusiastic about proposed changes to Proposition 13, which sets limits on property taxes. Changing the rules on the taxation of business and commercial property would raise an estimated $6 billion to $10 billion per year, of which 40 percent would go to public schools. A slight majority of voters – 51 percent – said they would support changes to Prop. 13, as compared with 39 percent who would oppose it.

California voters have become less pessimistic about the state of their public schools. Between 2012, when the question was first asked, and now, the percentage of voters who say the state’s public schools have gotten better more than doubled, to 17 percent from 7 percent. During that same time period, the percentage of voters who said public schools were getting worse declined, to 39 percent from 57 percent.

Thirty-six percent of voters said public schools had stayed the same.

Among the poll’s other findings:

  • Only 17 percent of California voters said their neighborhood public schools had gotten better, but that was up from 11 percent in 2012. Thirty-four percent of voters said their local public schools had gotten worse, down from 45 percent in 2012.
  • Sixty-five percent of California voters said they have never heard or read about the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013 reform under which billions of dollars have been funneled to school districts to directly help English learners, foster children and students from low-income families. An additional 21 percent said they had not heard or read much about it, the poll showed.
  • A plurality of voters said they approved of the job Gov. Brown is doing on education, with 45 percent who approve as compared with 38 percent who disapprove — the highest approval rating since the PACE/USC Rossier Poll first asked this question in 2013.
  • Forty-six percent of voters said they approve of the job President Obama was doing on U.S. education issues, as compared with 41 percent who disapprove.
  • Voters continue to give the state’s public schools average grades, although fewer voters believe schools are failing. The largest percentage of Californians (43 percent) gave their state’s schools a grade of “C.” And 32 percent of voters graded them a “D” or “F,” down from 42 percent in 2012. 

The PACE/USC Rossier School of Education Poll was conducted August 3-22, 2015 by polling firms MFour Mobile Research and Tulchin Research and surveyed 2,411 registered California voters. The poll was conducted online and allowed respondents to complete the survey on a desktop or laptop computer, tablet or smartphone. The poll was conducted in English and Spanish. The margin of error for the overall sample was +/- 2.9 percentage points.

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