SAN FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) -
California Governor Jerry Brown's insistence on paying down debt and
stockpiling savings instead of increasing funding for social services
for the poor resonates with voters, who support the idea overwhelmingly,
a new poll shows.
The study by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that
57 percent of likely voters prefer Brown's proposal of paying debts
and saving cash for hard times, compared with 39 percent who say the
state should shore up its tattered safety net.
"Where Brown stands on these issues, in taking a more fiscally
prudent approach, is in line with what the likely voter electorate
wants," said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy
The survey also showed Californians are deeply concerned about the
state's ongoing drought, with 66 percent following news about the
state's drought and 59 percent living in areas where they say water
supply is a serious issue.
Nearly 80 percent of Californians say they are using less water to
bathe or wash dishes, and 66 percent say they are using less water
on their lawns, the poll showed.
Brown's fiscally moderate approach to the state budget is widely
credited for putting the state on its feet after years of
multi-billion dollar budget deficits.
His tight-fistedness positions him well with voters in the state's
open primary next month, when he is expected to handily beat
Republican competitors Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari for
But it has put him at odds with some more liberal Democrats in the
legislature, who are pushing for increased funding for social
The population as a whole is more split on the budget question than
are the likely voters, who tend to skew a bit older and more
In the broader group of all adults, 46 percent of Californians
supported Brown's approach while 48 percent supported restoring
funds to social programs that were cut in previous budget years.
But when a description of Brown's plan, which does include some
increases in social service spending, was read to respondents, the
preference for it soared - to 73 percent among likely voters and 74
percent among all adults.
Party affiliation also played a role, with more Democrats supporting
spending on social services and more Republicans and independents
preferring debt payment and a reserve fund.
The poll surveyed 1,702 adult California residents by telephone from
May 8 to 15, with a margin of error of 3.6 percent.