Governor Jerry Brown’s job approval ratings are sky high in the recent Public Policy Institute of California Poll, which means the fate of Prop 30 could hang on a word from the governor. Brown continues to remind those who want to see Proposition 30 extended or made permanent that he campaigned for a temporary tax increase.
However, supporters of extending the tax will look at the PPIC poll and think they might get the voters on their side. The poll asked if respondents would like to see the tax extended beyond its 2018 expiration date. No length of extension was offered in the poll question. 52% of likely voters favored extension while 43% opposed. The crucial Independent voters in close election contests narrowly supported the idea of an extension, 49% to 45%.
The poll showed 61% of all adults and 58% of likely voters think Jerry Brown is doing a good job. That is a high mark for his second go-around as governor. Not surprisingly, Brown’s approval among Democrats sits at 82%. However, his job performance also gets the nod from 30% of Republicans and 56% of Independents.
Will approval of Brown’s job performance play a role when voters and legislators consider the future of Prop 30?
According to PPIC president and pollster Mark Baldassare, “Of those who favor a Proposition 30 extension, 74 percent approve of Brown as governor, so the two poll responses are highly related. Given his record-high approval numbers at the start of an historic fourth term as governor, Brown’s views on a wide range of fiscal and policy issues including a Proposition 30 tax extension will have an impact on voters’ preferences.”
If Brown insists on repeating that the Prop 30 taxes are temporary and that the budget can be managed without additional taxes, the voters who like the way he is steering the ship likely would sink any attempt to extend Proposition 30.
Brown will also have to weigh if abandoning his oft-stated temporary tax pledge will undercut his popularity.
However, as I noted previously, Brown might look on an extension of the Prop 30 taxes with a new end date as still a temporary tax therefore keeping his campaign promise while the tax is extended.
Alternatively, if a Proposition 30 extension is put on the ballot via the initiative process, Brown may fall back on his position that the people have to decide any tax increase and he will step back and leave the decision up to the voters.
For now, however, considering the poll numbers, the future of Prop 30 seems to rest on how Gov. Brown wants to employ his popularity.
Follow Joel Fox on Twitter @1JoelFox1.