Poll: Voters hesitant on potential 2016 tax hike initiatives

taxesA recent Public Policy Institute of California poll took the measure of many of the potential tax initiatives on the 2016 ballot. This snapshot in time indicates supporters of the tax increases have a lot of work to do to convince the public to vote for them.

But the way the questions were asked must be considered when weighing the results.

The idea of extending Proposition 30 is becoming more practical than theoretical with the submission of two separate ballot measures to achieve that goal. One measure, filed chiefly by the California Teachers Association, would extend Prop. 30 for 12 years. The second measure filed by the California Hospitals Association, a health care union and a children’s advocacy group, would make the Prop. 30 taxes permanent.

Voters Divided

The voters appear divided on extending Prop. 30 with 49 percent in favor of extension and 46 percent opposed. However, those favoring the extension drop to 32 percent if the taxes are made permanent.

One odd result from the poll was the great support for the Prop. 30 extension in the San Francisco Bay Area (63 percent) and much less support in the Central Valley (50 percent); odd, because this tax is centered on the wealthy, those with incomes of $250,000 and more. There are many more high-end taxpayers in the Bay Area than the Central Valley.

However, the way the question was asked may have something to do with this disparity. The question described the Proposition 30 tax that exists today. Poll respondents were asked if the taxes on incomes over $250,000 and the quarter cent sales tax should be extended. But, the quarter cent sales tax portion of the Prop. 30 tax measure is not included in either of the extension plans that were filed.

Could Central Valley voters have focused on the sales tax piece and would their answers be different if they knew the extension only affected high-end income taxpayers?

Split-roll property tax

Once again, PPIC asked about splitting the property tax roll under Proposition 13 treating commercial property differently than residential property by taxing commercial property according to current market value. Likely voters approved of the idea by 55 percent, with 39 percent opposed.

But this basic question doesn’t inform potential voters of consequences related to this issue. There was no effort to deal with either the potential positives or negatives of changing the property tax system. Those issues will certainly be aired during an expensive campaign over a split roll and undoubtedly would lead to different results than the poll currently reflects.

Two other taxes that are being discussed received quite different results. An oil extraction tax found 49 percent support with likely voters; a cigarette tax was supported by 66 percent of likely voters.

There could be a lot of money spent in a campaign opposed to these taxes and a fair amount of change in support. However, looking at all the tax measures at this moment in time, if the old rule were applied that an initiative needs to have at least 60 percent support in early polls to have a fighting chance at passing, then only the cigarette tax looks possible at this time.

Of course, if the ballot is full of tax proposals the old rules may not apply.


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  1. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 3 October, 2015, 08:08

    How about a Stupi Idea Tax to be paid by all these politicians who come up with these idiotic tax ideas and a Hot Air Tax to be paid by all those yammering about this Global Warming poppycock especialy Hollywood and Govenor Moonbeam as well as the varipus eco-freak groups

    Reply this comment
  2. bob
    bob 3 October, 2015, 19:01

    Most tax increases and bond measures pass, especially local ones.

    Colliefornia voters are sheep and will do as they are told and vote to raise their taxes if that’s what the politicians and special interests tell them to do.

    Reply this comment
    • Richard Rider
      Richard Rider 4 October, 2015, 11:41

      You are right about local tax increases, but not statewide taxes. Most fail.

      So what the state tax proponents do is try to levy a new or higher tax on a minority of people — smokers, millionaires, businesses, etc.

      For the Big Spenders, not enough people will vote to materially increase taxes on themselves.

      Reply this comment
  3. Just Another Disgruntled Citizen
    Just Another Disgruntled Citizen 5 October, 2015, 10:39

    There is a fabulous book called “For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization” by Charles Adams that was first published in the 1990’s, is still in print.
    It is a chronicle of tax policies instituted by cities, states, nations and empires going back to ancient Sumer, where the first recorded word for Liberty, “Amagi”, was found on a clay tablet that is 4,300 years old in a decree by King Urukagina that abolished both the taxes and the tax collectors that were destroying the country’s economy and people’s lives.
    Unfortunately, after awhile the Sumerians had no revenue to support the army necessary to protect them from invasions by marauding neighbors and eventually a warlord from Babylon named Hamurabi came swooping down with his hordes and took over.
    Incidentally, the Rule of Law Tradition goes back at least to Urukagina, who preceded Hamurabi by many, many years.

    Now, if California voters could get some book-larnin’ on the Cause and Effect of too many taxes on their pursuit of happiness, maybe we would get somewhere.

    “Knowledge is Power>” — James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, et al.

    Reply this comment
  4. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 5 October, 2015, 12:21

    Getting state wide tax increases is easy in Stupidfornia. As Mr. Rider notes, you just tax unpopular minorities like cigarette smokers, rich folks or businesses. Stupidfornia voters are superficial, ignorant, complacent, self absorbed, gullible and morally compromised so it’s easy peasy to sell them on bad ideas.

    Here are my ideas for some much needed tax increases –

    Tax white people. Since white people are a disfavored and much reviled minority in this state it should be a slam dunk. And it’s a twofer because everyone knows that the Republican Party is the party of white people so it’s a tax on Republicans too. How sweet is that?

    We could also tax heterosexuals, Christians and gun owners. Yes, I know, they’re not minorities but heck, everyone knows they are just plain evil.

    And why not a tax on women who give birth instead of having an abortion, with the proceeds going directly to the baby butchering Feminazis at Planned Parenthood. This one could be marketed as an environmental tax since everyone knows the human race is a cancer on the planet. Of course Hispanic women who give birth should get a tax credit instead of a tax bill since they’re just creating more Democrat drone voters and we could always use more of them.

    So many possibilities here, the mind simply boggles.

    Reply this comment

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