California Voters Come Out Against Tax Hikes, Program Cuts
A Field Poll released this week found that more than 60% of respondents said the state's projected $15.2 billion budget deficit should be addressed largely through spending cuts, but strong majorities of respondents said they opposed plans to cut health care, mental health or other government services.
With budget negotiations kicking into high gear this week, the Field Poll findings underscore the difficult choices that await lawmakers. Voters don't support increases to most state taxes, but Democratic lawmakers say tax hikes are the only way to close the budget gap without slashing programs drastically.
Last week, Assembly Democrats called for $6.4 billion in tax hikes, and Democratic senators followed up this week with a proposal for $11.5 billion in new taxes.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Republican lawmakers in both chambers remain opposed to broad new taxes.
Senate and Assembly leaders have expressed doubts that lawmakers will get a budget to the governor before the July 1 beginning of the fiscal year, raising the possibility of the state running short of cash to pay Medi-Cal claims and other bills if budget talks continue into August.
As lawmakers study spending proposals, they also will consider other legislation. Here's a rundown on recent action for some health care-related measures.