"Twenty-million-dollar deficit BAD, health care and education GOOD!," said three of every four voters in a random pool of about 1,700.
The only cries for cuts were directed at stinky, unpopular areas of government spending like prisons and transportation. Taxes, of any kind, were also largely hated on. Boo taxes!
Splurging on schools and health programs for the children/needy, however --
which together suck up 72 percent of the General Fund -- was only poo-pooed by 24 percent of voters. And in the end, a whopping 85 percent of voters thought a combination of smaller money-savers could close the gap.
Never thought we'd say this, but maybe We the People could take a lesson from Governor Schwarzenegger on this one. The optimistic muscle-man campaigned for office on the platform that he could quick-fix the budget by eliminating small extraneous costs and curbing waste/fraud. Since being elected, however, the Governator has conceded that he wasn't really able to save jack shit on that promise. As for his overall progress on the deficit, we all know how that's going.
Of course, Republican gubernatorial candidates like Meg Whitman weren't exactly poised to learn from that mistake.
"Voters just saw $100 million worth of TV of candidates bashing themselves back and forth," says Darry Sragow, interim director of the poll. "There has not been a sustained educational effort so that voters understand what we're doing here."
In the USC poll, 43 percent of voters said incoming Governor Jerry Brown's top priority should be protecting education and health care. But the next item down, with 32 percent behind it, was cutting state spending.
Good luck with that, Brown.