VOTERS NOT PAYING A LOT OF ATTENTION to State budget impasse – Yet thinkdelay is a serious matter


By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field

California’s legislature is in the midst of another one of its frequent annual partisan deadlocks, delaying the passage of a state budget way beyond the scheduled legal date (July 1) for adoption.

While the delay has stirred the Sacramento political community, the state’s voters are not paying alot of attention to the fact that no budget has been in place for the first seven weeks of the currentfiscal year.

The Field Poll, in a just completed statewide survey conducted among a cross-section of this state’sregistered voters, found just one in eight (12%) paying “a lot of attention” to the lawmakers’ effortsto pass a state budget. Another one-third (37%) say they are giving some attention to the matter.

However, a majority (51%) allow how they are paying “only a little” (34%) or “no attention” (17%) to the governor’s and state legislature’s attempts to pass a budget.

The degree of attention being paid to the efforts to pass a state budget does not vary among the state’s rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans, with about half of the voters affiliated with eachparty admitting to be paying little or no attention. Non-partisan voters are paying even less

Despite voters’ relative inattention to what’s going on with the budget in Sacramento, they still seethe inability of the state legislature to reach a budget agreement as either “very serious” (43%) or”somewhat serious” (38%). Just about one in six (17%) maintain that the budget delay is not aserious matter.

While there is not much difference in opinion among partisans on this question, opinions about the seriousness of the delay are tied to the amount of attention being paid to the issue by voters. Those paying greater attention to the delay in passing the budget are more likely to view the situation asvery serious.

Five years ago the legislature was locked in a similar lengthy political struggle over the budget that was finally broken two months after the mandated July 1 deadline.

At that time, a greater proportion of the state’s voters than exists today (57%) believed the budget delay was “very serious” and another 30% viewed it as “somewhat serious.” (It should be noted that the 2002 survey was conducted in late August 2002, while the current survey was completed in early August.)

How governor’s and legislature’s budget performances are being viewedRepublican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role in trying to resolve the state’s budget situation is viewed somewhat more favorably than either the Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature.

One third of voters (33%) think the governor is doing a “very good” or “good” job in the budget deliberations, compared to 24% who believe he is doing a “poor” or “very poor” job in this respect.

The remaining proportions feel the governor is doing a “fair” job (32%) or have no opinion (11%). On the other hand, voters’ job appraisals of Democratic and Republican lawmakers in resolving the budget stand-off are less favorable than those of the governor, with Republican legislators viewed a little less favorably than their Democratic counterparts.


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