Poll Gauges Californians’ Opinions on Health Care, Pension Issues
Californians largely support abortion access, cigarette taxes and changes to public pension systems, but opinion is more split on a tax hike that would fund education and health care programs, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Cadelago, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 9/30).
The survey took place from Sept. 13 to Sept. 22 and included 1,708 California adults.
Findings on Prop. 30
About 38% of respondents support extending -- either temporarily or permanently -- a sales and income tax hike under Proposition 30, which is set to expire at the end of 2018. Meanwhile, about 17% of respondents favor extending the tax increases, but only if they are temporary. Thirty-seven percent of respondents oppose extending the tax hike (PPIC survey, 9/30).
A ballot initiative proposed by a coalition of health care and education groups seeks to extend increased income taxes under Prop. 30. However, the proposed ballot measure would allow Prop. 30's sales tax increase to expire in 2016, as scheduled.
Like Prop. 30, the proposed ballot measure would:
- Increase taxes for couples earning at least $580,000 annually; and
- Impose higher tax rates for "super-earner" couples that earn more than $2 million per year.
The plan would generate an estimated $10 billion in revenue annually, with:
- 50% of the generated funds going to K-14 education; and
- 40% of the generated funds being used to increase provider reimbursements under Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program (California Healthline, 9/22).
While the question in PPIC's survey does not precisely match the ballot initiative, Alliance for a Better California spokesperson Gail Kaufman said the survey results still are promising (Calefati, Oakland Tribune, 9/30).
Findings on Pensions
About one-third of respondents said the amount of money being spent on public employee pensions or retirement systems is a "big problem," while 35% said it was "somewhat of a problem" and 18% it was "not a problem."
Meanwhile, three-fourths of respondents said California voters should have some say in decisions related to public employees' retirement benefits. About 20% said state and local governments should make all such decisions.
In addition, about 67% favor changing public employee pension systems to a defined contribution system, while 20% oppose such changes.
Approval Ratings for Lawmakers
According to the survey, about 52% of California adults approve of Gov. Jerry Brown (D), while 295 disapprove. Meanwhile, 45% of respondents approve of the California Legislature, while 38% disapprove.
When asked about California lawmakers:
- 52% of respondents approve of the way Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) is handling her job, while 30% disapprove; and
- 49% of respondents approve of the way Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) is handling her job, while 33% disapprove.
The survey also found that nearly 70% of California adults said they favor increasing state taxes on cigarettes, while 29% opposed increasing such taxes.
Meanwhile, 69% of respondents said the government should not pass more laws that restrict access to abortion, while 28% said government should pass more restrictions on abortion.
About 31% said abortion should be legal under any circumstances, 20% said it should be legal under most circumstances and 32% said it should be legal in only a few circumstances. Fifteen percent said it should be illegal in all circumstances.
In addition, the survey found that just 12% of California adults are "very confident" that their local government is able to handle the shifting of lower-risk inmates from state prisons to county jails under a statewide effort to reduce prison overcrowding. Thirty-nine percent said they are "somewhat confident" that their local government could handle the transition, while 24% said they are "not too confident" and 22% said they are "not at all confident" (PPIC survey, 9/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.