The governor's $7 billion-a-year plan to raise money for schools and public safety by raising income taxes on the wealthy and putting into place a temporary sales tax hike is ahead in the latest poll -- but support is off sharply, compared with a January survey.
From KQED's John Myers: "Not surprisingly, Democrats (71% support) and Republicans (65% oppose) have the strongest reactions to Brown's income/sales tax hike. Independent voters (49% yes, 41% no) are more conflicted."
"But what's fascinating is that overall support for the governor's proposal appears to have dropped in just a matter of weeks by an astounding 20 points. PPIC's January survey found 72% support among likely voters. So what gives?"
"PPIC pollster Mark Baldassare cautions against a direct comparison of the numbers, because the January poll was done before Brown's initiative had a formal title and summary for his team to read during their telephone surveys. As such, that poll question was shorter and slightly more general, whereas the new poll question hews very closely to the official ballot label created by the office of Attorney General Kamala Harris. And so where January's poll question simply said that the tax revenues would go to K-12 schools, the new one also uses the title and summary language about public safety realignment and freeing up dollars for "other spending commitments."
Pollsters also reported that GOP presidential contender is moving up in his fight to unseat front-runner Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.
From Jerry Roberts abd Phil Trounstine at CalBuzz: "Rick Santorum has moved to within striking distance of Mitt Romney in California’s June presidential primary with its cache of 172 delegates, according to the latest survey from the Public Policy Institute of California."
"Romney now draws 28% of likely Republican voters, compared to Santorum at 22%, a spread PPIC characterized as within the margin of error for Republican likely voters."
And still more from the PPIC: Slightly over half of likely voters are opposed to the proposed bullet train.
From California Watch's Will Evans: "But when it comes to another Brown priority, high-speed rail, California voters are not as gung-ho. When told the project would cost $100 billion over the next 20 years, 53 percent of likely voters said they would oppose it."
"Voters passed a $10 billion bond measure to build the system in 2008, but cost estimates and criticism of the project have grown. State Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville, is trying to send the issue back to voters. He introduced a bill and ballot measure that would stop the state from issuing and selling more rail bonds."
Legislation is in the hopper to dramatically expand legalized gambling in California, a proposal that is setting up a major, statewide discussion on the issue. Jim Miller in the Press-Enterprise has the story.
"The Senate’s top Democrat is the co-author of a bill to legalize online poker as a way to generate as much as $200 million for the state’s beleaguered general fund. Wealthy gaming tribes in Inland Southern California are among those that have expressed interest in participating, but there has long been disagreement over the details."
"Another measure would legalize sports wagering at licensed gambling establishments such as casinos and horse tracks. Federal law prohibits sports betting in most states, and California’s approval of a law to legalize it would hasten a legal and political showdown over the issue."
"The online poker bill, introduced Feb. 24, was widely anticipated. But many in the gaming industry were surprised by the introduction of the sports wagering measure, the first time since the late 1980s that such a bill has been put forward."
As local officials around California decide on changes in the public pension system, the question arises over whether unions opposing the changes are using state agencies to help in the fight. Ed Mendel at CalPensions tells the tale.
"While unions oppose key parts of Gov. Brown’s 12-point pension reform plan in the Legislature, local officials say union allies are using state agencies to try to derail or undermine local pension reforms on the June ballot in San Jose and San Diego."
"The widely watched local measures, going beyond the governor’s plan, would cut pension benefits promised current workers, something now mainly limited to new hires. Major court battles are likely if voters approve the potentially trendsetting measures.
"A legislative committee yesterday approved a request by Assemblyman Jim Beall and a half dozen other San Francisco Bay area Democratic legislators to have the state auditor probe San Jose pension costs."
Enough of the news: Now comes the tale of Godzilla, the angry turkey. Another tale from Detroit.
"Edna Geisler, 69, has been forced to confront that very issue. For the past month, a wild turkey has been stalking her every day at her home on the outskirts of Detroit. She’s become so familiar with the 25-pound bird that she’s even given him a name: Godzilla."
"Geisler said Godzilla begins to guard her car around 7 a.m. each day, preventing her from getting in. He even chases her to the front door of her house, flying at her chest and occasionally grasping at her with his claw. Geisler’s friend, Rick Reid, told the Detroit Free Press the bird once bit him on the elbow."