Voter support for Proposition 30 — which could determine whether University of California students are dealt a 20 percent tuition hike in January — has fallen below 50 percent for the first time, according to a survey released Wednesday.
Performed by the Public Policy Institute of California, the survey shows that support for Prop. 30 among likely voters has fallen to 48 percent, about 4 percent less than last month. Opposition has grown by the same amount, from 40 to 44 percent. The percentage of undecided voters has remained the same at 8 percent.
Prop. 30 would raise the state sales tax by a quarter of a percentage point for the next four years and raise the state income tax for the next seven years for taxpayers making more than $250,000 annually. If passed, the measure would also prevent almost $6 billion in budget cuts, primarily to the state’s K-12 and higher education institutions. The UC Board of Regents has said that if it fails, UC students will likely see a 20.3 percent tuition hike in January to cover the shortfall.
A recent USC/Los Angeles Times poll taken between Oct. 15 and Oct. 21 found an even sharper decline in support for Prop. 30 than did the PPIC survey, down to 46 percent supportive from 55 percent.
Dean Bonner, a policy associate at the PPIC and the project manager for the institute’s survey, said the two surveys are demonstrative of a narrowing margin between “yes” and “no” voters rather than a shift in support. Because the margin of error for the PPIC survey was 4 percent, Bonner said he would not consider the decline in support for Prop. 30 a decrease but rather “just short of a majority.”
“It’s often said if you want an initiative to pass in the months leading up to the election, you should have above 50 percent, because once people start making up their minds, you see a decrease in support often,” Bonner said. “It may be due to ads, (but) it could just be that more people are aware and have done their own research and thus have made up their minds.”
But some UC Berkeley students remain unaware of the ballot measure.
Gabby Dumaguin, a freshman who will vote for the first time this year, said she did not know Prop. 30 was on the ballot but still plans to look over her voter guide to familiarize herself with the issues.
“I would have to do more research on whether there’s been anything in the past that would be effective to fund education,” Dumaguin said.
John Hofinga, a fifth-year, wasn’t familiar with Prop. 30 by name but said he’d heard about a proposition to help raise money for schools and would support raising taxes to avoid a tuition increase.
Critics of Prop. 30 say that the measure would not guarantee any new funding to state schools but rather would use existing money to fund other state services. The additional tax revenue brought in by Prop. 30 could then be used to replace those funds. Opponents released the first television advertisement against the proposition in early October.
And those opposed to the proposition aren’t the only source of pressure to the Yes on Prop. 30 campaign. With less than two weeks until the Nov. 6 election, the campaign also faces increasing competition from a rival ballot measure, Proposition 38.
Prop. 38 would raise income taxes on a much broader range of taxpayers for the next 12 years, primarily to fund K-12 education.
If both ballot measures succeed, the one with the higher number of votes will be implemented. But there is no guarantee that either will pass, and some say that competition between the propositions could lead to the failure of both.
“When there are two propositions heading in the same directions, confusion is always a likelihood,” said David Kirp, a professor of at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. “When voters are confused, the inclination is to vote no, which is a rational strategy.”
Contact Gautham Thomas at [email protected].