Majority of Californians Say Budget Deficit Is Serious, State Headed in Wrong Direction

Majority of Californians Say Budget Deficit Is Serious, State Headed in Wrong Direction

A homeless encampment in San Diego on Oct. 4, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

1/22/2024

Updated: 1/23/2024

Faced with a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, Californians agree the issue is serious but differ on how best to address it, according to a new Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll.
“The survey suggests little appetite for tax increases to address the deficit,” Eric Schickler, co-director of the institute, said in the report released Jan. 17. “But a challenge for Governor Newsom and the Legislature is that while spending cuts, in principle, are relatively popular, that support would likely dissipate when it comes time to making cuts to specific programs and services.”
Half of the more than 8,000 likely voters polled said the deficit is “extremely serious” and another 37 percent said it is “somewhat serious,” while 8 percent saw no issue with the funding gap.
Slightly more than one-third of Democrats who responded said the deficit is extremely serious, while 80 percent of Republicans said the same.
Amounting to $38 billion, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s January budget proposal and $68 billion according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office report released in December, the deficit is due to a shortfall in personal income and corporate tax receipts.
Spending cuts are the preferred choice of mitigating the deficit for 51 percent of respondents, with about a third suggesting using rainy day funds, and 13 percent wanting to raise taxes.
More than three-quarters of Republicans think reducing spending is essential.
Democrats prefer using rainy day funds, however, and are less inclined to cut spending, with only 37 percent approving and 13 percent recommending raising taxes.
Support for cuts was broad across many categories of respondents, increasing at every age-group interval.
Regarding the overall trajectory of the state, 57 percent of those surveyed said California is off track, while one-third said it’s heading in the right direction.
While a poorer sentiment than in surveys in recent years, such were worse between 2008 and 2011 during and after the financial crisis. During that time, between 69 to 80 percent of respondents felt the state was on the wrong track.
But the worst outlook came in 1992 after the Rodney King riots when 90 percent said the state was off target.
Regarding Mr. Newsom’s performance, 46 percent surveyed were in favor compared to 47 percent opposed.
The survey was conducted by email January 4-8 and has a 1.5 percent margin of error.
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Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

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Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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