How will the next state budget crisis be avoided? Manypolicy experts, political pundits, and special interests have their own ideas.But odds are the solutions that will grab public attention will not contain anysubtleties or nuances. Opposing factions will likely support measures mosteasily understood by the voters.

I am talking about the old standbys: Make it easier to passa budget and raise taxes or cut spending.

I would argue that there is a third way. Get our fiscalhouse in order, cut taxes that will promote growth, and make Californiabusiness friendly. Taken together, I believe these actions will result in morerevenue for the state and that will happen in an economically smart way.However, making the case for this approach will take time.

So, that brings us back to those old standbys of raisingtaxes and cutting spending. Which in turn brings us to the new poll issued bythe Public Policy Institute of California.

The poll indicated that three-fourths of Californians wantmajor changes to the budget process. The survey tested whether reducing thetwo-thirds vote to 55% for passing a budget was a good idea or not. The surveyfound that 49% of residents and 46% of likely voters thought it was a goodidea. Those numbers are up slightly from a year ago. But it is important tonote that support is still under 50%. If initiative measures start under 60%,most consultants consider them a difficult gamble at best. Also, independents,a growing political force, are split down the middle on this question.

The PPIC poll also tested the idea of a strict spendinglimit. In that case, there is little ambiguity. By 62% to 31% Californiansthink a tough spending limit is a good idea.

These results indicate that if the Democrats move ahead withtheir two-third vote reduction plan for the budget (and taxes as well?) thatthey frequently mention, Republicans might respond with a spending limitinitiative.

If both measures appear on the ballot California voters willget a chance to set the direction for the state. Those three out of fourresidents who are irritated with the budget process will have an avenue toexpress those frustrations.

Looking at the PPIC poll, early in the game it seems thespending limit approach has the edge.