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California voters are inclined to support Gov. Jerry Brown's sales and income tax increase, but by a less than overwhelming margin, a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California has found.

The PPIC poll of likely voters found 54 percent in favor of Brown's tax measure, for which signatures are now being gathered, and 39 percent opposed. The poll also indicated that a rival measure sponsored by civil rights attorney Molly Munger and the state PTA to raise income taxes on most taxpayers for schools faces an uphill struggle.

Brown has attempted to persuade Munger to drop her initiative, but she's poured millions of dollars into signature-gathering and is likely to turn in signatures soon.

Brown has portrayed his measure as one that would save schools from massive cuts, building on an assumption -- confirmed by the PPIC poll -- that K-12 education is the most popular area of the state budget. But Munger contends that Brown's measure would actually give schools little or no new money.

Overall, the poll found, voters are more than willing to tax high-income Californians, as Brown's measure would do. The poll didn't ask about Munger's plan specifically, but showed nearly three-fifths of voters opposed to raising income taxes on most taxpayers for schools, which her measure would do. They also oppose the sales tax component of Brown's proposal, a quarter-cent increase. That opposition drags down overall support for the governor's approach.

The PPIC poll also found that Brown's approval rating among all adults is 43 percent and among likely voters 47 percent, but support for his handling of public education - -the broad subject of PPIC's polling -- drew approval at just half of those levels. In fact just 23 percent of likely voters like his education policies.

However, Brown is doing much better than the Legislature, which gained the approval of just 15 percent of likely voters in the PPIC poll.


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