Voters say Brown must support education, healthcare


Education and healthcare should top the list of priorities for governor-elect Jerry Brown, according to the latest Los Angeles Times/USC poll.

Laurel Van Patten | Daily Trojan

Fifty-two percent of Asian voters and 51 percent of Latino voters said protecting healthcare and education should be Brown’s top priority.

Overall, 42 percent of 2010 midterm voters agreed.

Healthcare and education were closely followed by cutting state spending, which was a top policy concern for 33 percent of voters.

“The results are consistent,”said Darry Sragow, interim director of the LAT/USC poll and adjunct assistant professor of political science at USC. “Voters absolutely want to protect certain programs — notably healthcare and education for certain groups — but they have absolutely no interest in raising taxes.”

Despite wanting to cut state spending, an overwhelming majority of voters did not support cutting funds from California K-12 schools. Seventy percent did not support cuts in education and 33 percent thought that spending for K-12 schools should be increased.

Forty-two percent of the state’s general fund goes to education, however, so cutting spending without cutting education is a near impossibility, Sragow said.

“There’s a dilemma when it comes to fixing our current balance,” Sragow said. “We want to protect education and healthcare for kids and for seniors and the disabled and people that need that help. On the other hand, it is a near tiny fraction for those that just want to increase taxes.”

Although very few California voters favored tax increases alone to curb the budget deficit, they were evenly split between spending cuts or a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to ease the state’s economic woes. Forty-four percent favored spending cuts alone, another 44 percent favored a combination of cuts and tax increases, and only 6 percent favored tax increases alone.

Overall, voters also supported granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children and have since graduated from a U.S. high school or served in the military for at least two years, legislation which mirrors that of the DREAM Act.

“[Latinos] are more supportive, but whites support the DREAM Act 75 to 22 [percent],” said Manuel Pastor, professor of American studies and ethnicity. “There’s widespread support.”

Dan Ichinose, director of the Demographic Research Project at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, said Asian-American voters typically felt the same.

“The story for Asian-Americans was that Asian-Americans, along with Latinos, rejected a trend toward conservatism,” Ichinose said. “Asian-Americans in this poll were more likely to think themselves Democrats versus Republican. In a state that’s disproportionately immigrant, it’s likely that anti-immigrant policies turned voters against conservatism.”

When it came to healthcare, a majority of midterm election voters were in favor of retaining or increasing spending on healthcare for children and low-to-moderate income families. Overall, 67 percent of voters opposed a cut to healthcare spending, while 37 supported cutting healthcare spending “a lot” or “a little” to reduce the budget deficit.

The poll also asked about Californians’ thoughts on transportation and prison spending. A majority of voters favored spending cuts for state prisons, but they were split on whether the state’s transportation, roads and rail systems should receive more or less funding. Forty-nine percent thought funding should decrease, while 45 percent favored retaining or increasing transportation spending.

Sragow said Brown has a lot of room to maneuver in the coming months.

“Expectations for Jerry are actually quite modest,” Sragow said. “Forty-five percent thought it was only important for little progress to be made in [the top areas of concern among voters.]

The LAT/USC poll was conducted from Nov. 3 to Nov. 14. It surveyed 1,689 registered voters in California and 1,457 people who voted in the 2010 midterm election.

  • John

    Reading this article reminds me of why I live in Virginia now. Does it feel as if 44% of the budget goes to education? Certainly not, so clearly there is a lot of waste in the system. If California wants to solve its budget woes, then it needs to get serious about the root cause of the problem.
    Someday California will wake up when all the jobs and businesses move to states such as Texas and Virginia. Let’s hope it’s not too late.

  • AC

    Oregon is considering a single-payer universal health care system for their State. California should do the same, now that Congress has dropped the ball.