Poll: Public opposes tuition increases — and new taxes

More than three out of four of California’s likely voters oppose forcing students to pay higher tuition at public colleges and universities, according to the latest survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.

But most voters oppose raising taxes to meet the schools’ fiscal needs.

“This strong opposition to fee increases holds across parties, regions, and demographic groups,” the survey noted.

More than half of those surveyed – 59 percent — said the state isn’t providing sufficient funding for the schools, and three-fourths of the respondents said the state’s public higher education system is very important to California’s quality of life.

At the same time, some “56 percent of adults and 58 percent of likely voters say they oppose paying higher taxes to maintain current funding,” according to the survey, which can be seen here.

Nearly six in 10 surveyed “say that overall affordability is a big problem for students in the state’s higher education system.” About 25 percent see the “overall quality of higher education as a big problem.”

“Most Californians believe that higher education is very important to the state’s future and that their state government is not providing enough funding for it,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “But their concerns do not translate into support for tax increases to fund higher education, and they are even more strongly opposed to raising student fees.”

But some tax hikes do receive support.

Of those surveyed, about 52 percent favor extending the temporary sales and income tax increases in Proposition 30, which voters approved in 2012 to help balance the budget and fund schools. Some 71 percent of Democrats favor of extending the tax increases, while 64 percent of Republicans are opposed.

Strong majorities of adults also favor raising state taxes on the purchase of cigarettes (74%) and alcoholic beverages (68%), PPIC reported.

On other issues:

–More than half surveyed are upbeat about the economy in the coming year, the highest proportion since 2001, with the highest level of confidence expressed in the San Francisco Bay area.

–Looking at the future, barely a third said California would be a better place to live in 2025 than it is now, and most say their children will be worse off than their parents.

–Californians remain divided on the Affordable Care Act, with 46 percent holding a generally positive view of the health care law and 43 percent holding a negative view.

Ed’s Note:  Findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,704 adult residents interviewed on landlines and cell phones from Nov. 10–17, 2014. They were conducted in English and Spanish.

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