What jumped out at me reading the results of the new Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll is that fiscal conservatism is still strong in the Golden State. While the poll indicated that a plurality of those polled (44%) felt that a mix of tax increases and spending cuts should be used to solve the budget crisis, nearly as many likely voters (38%) said the budget hole should be closed only with cuts.

On top of that, almost all voters think the state wastes money. That statement is not an exaggeration. It truly is almost ALL likely voters according to the PPIC survey. Nearly two-thirds of the likely voters (63%) said the state wastes a lot of money, and an additional 31% said the state wastes some money. A staggering total of 94% see the state as wasteful.

Furthermore, jobs and the economy is the big issue with voters right now. Forty-two percent say that is the number one issue in California and taxes is second at 10%. The frequent number one issue, education, was ranked fourth at just 6% in this poll.

If the voters have these views then the rallies and dramas performed in or around the steps of the capital demanding more taxes and higher spending hoping to change some budget votes will probably have no impact.

Republicans who insist that the budget deficit be solved with spending cuts and no tax increases are on solid ground with their constituents said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and director of the statewide survey. “If you think about this as representative government Republicans are representing their constituencies quite well.”

Considering Democrats make up a larger percentage of registered voters, clearly plenty of Democrats are also upset with the way government spends its money. USC professor John Matsusaka may have explained Californians’ frustration best in an op-ed column when he noted that spending went up 40% in four years but, “How many of us feel like we are getting 40% more public services, 40% better schools, roads, parks and so on?”

In a different opinion piece, Matsusaka argued that “…the root cause of the state’s financial problems is a political system in which legislators have a short-term perspective and depend on the support of narrow interest groups for re-election. “

Voters undoubtedly agree. The PPIC poll revealed that 71% say that, “State government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves.”

Meanwhile, trust in government falls further. Only 20% think the Legislature is doing a good job. The governor’s rating dropped to 43%. That is low for Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to Baldassare, but much better than the legislature’s numbers. Baldassare told me he thought the governor “faired better than the legislature because he was seen as a problem solver.”

These poll numbers indicate we are in for a long haul before the budget problem is solved.