Voters shunning GOP’s traditional tax stance

California voters, sorting out a November election of historic proportions, are turning their backs on the fundamental Republican philosophy that demonizes taxes.

In fact, two proposals of the three aimed at the ballot to tax the wealthy to raise new money for schools drew support from well over half the electorate, and a third was backed by nearly one in two voters, the latest Field Poll reported.

The political jockeying is intense, as rivals – the governor, the California Federation of Teachers and civil rights attorney Molly Munger – push their measures. If all the measures make the ballot, tight-fisted voters in a weak economy may be inclined to throw them out, political observers believe.

But the polling nine months before Election Day shows support for new taxes – support that could dwindle dramatically as opposition campaigns spring up.

The plan backed by the California Federation of Teachers, which would raise income taxes on those earning more than $1 million with a higher increase on incomes of $2 million or more, was supported by 63 percent of voters, with 31 percent opposed and the rest undecided. The plan would raise perhaps $6 billion annually; more in later years.

Gov. Brown’s plan to raise $7 billion annually for schools and public safety by increasing taxes on those earning more than $250,000 and through a temporary, half-cent sales tax increase, was supported by 58 percent and opposed by 36 percent with 6 percent undecided.

Munger’s plan would raise income taxes across a broader spectrum of taxpayers and use the money – perhaps $10 billion annually — for public schools, child care and pre-school programs. According to Field, voters are closely divided on her proposal, with 45 inclined to vote in favor, 48 opposed and the rest undecided. Munger’s own polling shows higher support, but the Field Poll noted problems.

“Weighing down the Munger initiative is the fact that majorities or pluralities of men, white non-Hispanics, middle and upper-income voters, and residents of the Central Valley and Southern California voters outside of Los Angeles oppose it. By contrast, both the CFT’s and the governor’s initiatives receive majority across these same voters subgroups,” the Field Poll said.

Men and women view all the proposed tax increases from sharply different perspectives – in each case, more women support the proposals than men. In the California Federation of Teachers’ proposal, nearly two-thirds of women support it, compared with 58 percent of the men in support. For the governor’s plan, the split is 61 percent female to 53 percent male, while in the Munger initiative the divide is 51 percent to 38 percent.

For all the initiatives, not surprisingly, support drops as the income levels of those surveyed increases. Of the three, the Munger initiative is more broadlay based,

The survey was conducted Feb. 2-18 of 1,003 registered voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percent, and 4.5 percent in subgroups.

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