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Gov. Jerry Brown enjoys strong support for his Solomon-like approach to closing the state's budget deficit, a mixture of spending cuts and tax extensions that would require voter approval, a new Public Policy Institute of California poll has found.

However, when PPIC polled voters on the specific sales, income and car taxes he wants to extend, support dropped well below 50 percent - even though they conceptually supported paying more taxes to maintain spending on K-12 and higher education and health and welfare services and supported cuts only in prisons.

These contradictory findings mirror those of other recent polls by PPIC and other survey organizations, and complicate the Capitol's political wrangling over the budget. While Brown and other Democrats can argue that voters don't want to slash spending on education and social and health services, Republicans can contend that neither do they want to pay the higher taxes that the Democrats support.

The PPIC poll's findings on submitting the taxes to voters also provide fodder for the debate. Brown wants such an election this year to fulfill his campaign pledge, but when polling indicated that the taxes might fail, Democratic legislative leaders and public employee unions backed away. The new PPIC poll found that large majorities of voters back the tax election Brown wants.

Several of PPIC's questions found a deep suspicion of state government's trustworthiness, while Brown's overall support rating of 42 percent is only lukewarm.


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