Voter support for Proposition 2, a new version of a state budget rainy day fund, has increased from a month ago, but is still shy of the majority backing that Gov. Jerry Brown will need to pass his signature ballot measure, according to a poll released on Wednesday.
With less than two weeks before the Nov. 4 election, 49 percent of likely voters said they favor Prop. 2, while 34 percent said no, with 17 percent undecided, the survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found. That’s up 6 percentage points from September, when it had 43 percent support, 33 percent opposed and 24 percent undecided.
Prop. 2 would strengthen the existing savings account for the General Fund by increasing its size, restricting when money from it could be used and requiring that at least a couple of billion dollars be fed into it annually. In addition, it would divert potentially billions of dollars more in receipts from the capital gains tax, the most volatile source of state revenue, in years when revenues ran above average.
Prop. 2 would establish a separate rainy day fund for K-12 schools and community colleges, although it would rarely be used; a number of conditions would have to be met before any dollars could be diverted into it. Nonetheless, all of the big education organizations and lobbies either oppose Prop. 2 or have taken no position on it. Along with ambivalence toward a rainy day fund for education, they oppose a related statute that would restrict the size of districts’ budget reserves in years when the state rainy day account is funded.
Working in Brown’s favor is a multi-million-dollar ad campaign leading up to Election Day and the lack of moneyed opposition to counter his message. Two years ago, Brown waited until the final weeks before the election to unleash ads that were credited for the passage of Proposition 30, a temporary tax increase.
“Brown understands the electorate and recognizes this is the time when people will get focused,” said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California.
It makes sense to “ride Prop. 2 on the coattails of Prop. 1,” Baldassare said.
Brown still has to make the case for Prop. 2 to Democrats. While 68 percent of Democrats support the water bond, only 53 percent back Prop. 2, along with 49 percent of Republicans and independents. Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature unanimously passed Prop. 2, but “it has not been getting strong support among what you view as natural constituencies, Republicans and conservatives,” Baldassare said.
The poll found that a third of voters view the outcome of Prop. 2 as very important, and 62 percent say the state’s budget situation is a big problem. However, that’s down from 80 percent two years ago and 90 percent four years ago.