Majorities of Californians support Gov. Newsom’s first proposed budget, which increases spending on K–14 education, higher education, and health and human services. This is among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).
When read a summary of the governor’s 2019–20 proposed budget, 70% of all California adults and 64% of likely voters favor the spending plan. Large majorities support two key components of the governor’s proposal: 77% of adults and 72% of likely voters favor allocating $1.8 billion to expand pre-kindergarten and early childhood programs and facilities, while 78% of adults and 70 % of likely voters support an $832 million funding increase for public colleges and universities.
“Governor Newsom’s first budget proposal is highly popular among Californians, and there is overwhelming support for his plans to increase funding for preschool and higher education,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.
The survey also asks which of the four major areas of state spending should have the highest priority: K–12 public education, health and human services, higher education, or prisons and corrections. Californians are most likely to choose K–12 education (46%), followed by health and human services (32%), higher education (16%), and prisons and corrections (4%).
Immigration seen as top issue for state leaders to address
Asked what the most important issue is for the governor and legislature to address in the coming year, more Californians name immigration and illegal immigration (15% adults, 18% likely voters) than any other issue. Additional issues mentioned by more than 5% of Californians are education (11% adults, 11% likely voters), jobs and the economy (10% adults, 8% likely voters), the environment (8% adults, 8% likely voters), and homelessness (6% adults, 7% likely voters).
Just 27 % of Californians say the situation with illegal immigration across the US-Mexico border is a crisis, while 45% say it is a serious problem but not a crisis. A similar share of adults nationwide (24%) called the situation a crisis in a January ABC/Washington Post poll.
A strong majority of Californians (69%) oppose building a wall along the entire border with Mexico, while 28% favor doing so. Nationwide, a January CNN poll found that a majority of adults (56%) opposed building a wall and 39 % were in favor.
The survey also asks Californians their views on the state of racial divisions in the US more generally: 45% say race relations are worse than they were a year ago, while only 20% say they are better and 34% say they are about the same. Two-thirds of African Americans (66%) in California say race relations are getting worse, as do 45% of both Latinos and whites and 38% of Asian Americans.
“Building a wall along the US-Mexico border continues to be an unpopular idea, while many Californians say that the state of race relations in America has gotten worse in the last year,” Baldassare said.
Most blame president, Republicans in Congress for shutdown
Most Californians believe President Trump and Republicans in Congress were primarily responsible for the recent partial shutdown of the federal government. A strong majority (64%) say the president and Republicans in Congress were responsible, compared with just 24% saying Democrats in Congress were responsible. Nationwide, 53 % of adults blamed Trump and Republicans, while 29 % blamed Democrats, according to a January ABC/Washington Post poll.
Majority are optimistic governor, legislature can work together
Two-thirds of Californians (67% adults, 65% likely voters) are optimistic that the new governor and the legislature will be able to work together and accomplish a lot in the next year. Majorities of Democrats (79%) and independents (59%) believe Governor Newsom and the legislature will be able to work together, as do 44% of Republicans.
“In the wake of the election, there are sky-high expectations that Governor Newsom and the Democratic-controlled legislature will be able to work together and accomplish a lot in 2019,” Baldassare said.
With Newsom in office for less than a month, 44% of adults and 43 % of likely voters approve of the way he is handling his job, while 33% of adults and 29 % of likely voters say they don’t know or have not heard enough to have an opinion yet. This is similar to Governor Brown’s approval rating when he took office in January 2011 (41% adults, 47% likely voters).
As the 2019–20 legislative session gets underway, about half of adults (49%) and 46% of likely voters approve of the way the California Legislature is handling its job. This is similar to the legislature’s approval rating from last January (51% adults, 50% likely voters).
When asked who should make the tough choices involved in the state budget this year, overwhelming majorities of Californians (77% adults, 78% likely voters) want voters to make some of the decisions. This is consistent with the large share of Californians—always at least three in four—expressing this view on PPIC surveys since 2011.
Mixed views on “split roll” change to Proposition 13
Proposition 13, which limits property taxes in California, is viewed favorably, with 61 % of adults and 64% of likely voters saying it has been mostly a good thing for the state. A ballot measure eligible for the 2020 ballot would ease the strict limits that Proposition 13 places on commercial property taxes without changing its provisions for residential properties. Californians are divided on having commercial properties taxed according to their current market value. Slightly less than half (47%) favor this change, 43 % oppose, and 10 % don’t know. Likely voters hold similar views: 49 % favor the change, 43 % oppose, and 8 % don’t know. A majority of Democrats approve (58%), while 49 % of independents and 37 % of Republicans do.
“Majorities of Californians continue to say that Proposition 13 has been a good thing for California, while the split roll property tax reform draws mixed reviews across party lines,” Baldassare said.
The survey also asks about Californians’ understanding of state finances. Asked to name the largest source of state revenue, a third (33% adults, 34% likely voters) correctly say personal income taxes.
Optimism about direction of state, pessimism about nation
A majority of Californians are optimistic about where the state is headed, with 55 % of adults and 51 % of likely voters saying things are going in the right direction. However, views vary across racial/ethnic groups and party affiliations. Majorities of Asian Americans (71%), Latinos (62%), and African Americans (57%), but less than half of whites (47%), believe California is going in the right direction. More than three-fourths of Democrats (79%) hold this view, while far fewer independents (41%) and Republicans (18%) do.
In contrast with overall optimism about where the state is headed, Californians are pessimistic about the direction of the country. Slightly less than a third of adults (30%) and likely voters (29%) say things are going in the right direction nationally. There is dramatic variation across racial/ethnic groups. Only 6 % of African Americans in California say things in the US are going in the right direction, far less than among whites (30%), Latinos (32%), and Asian Americans (37%). A majority of Republicans (57%), but far fewer independents (30%) and Democrats (15%), say the country is headed in the right direction.
Editor’s Note: This survey was of 1,707 California adult residents, including 1,195 interviewed on cell phones and 512 interviewed on landline telephones. Interviews took place from Jan. 20–29, 2019. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, according to respondents’ preferences. The sampling error, taking design effects from weighting into consideration, is ±3.3 percent for all adults, ±3.5 percent for the 1,440 registered voters, and ±4.0 percent for the 1,154 likely voters.