Calif. Voters Set to Reject Schwarzenegger Tax Plan

Tuesday, 19 May 2009 02:42 PM

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With 20 months left in office, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has staked his political legacy on a ballot initiative aimed at reducing the state's huge budget deficit.

But Californians are poised to reject the measure in Tuesday's vote.

The most significant measure on the ballot would extend income, sales and vehicle tax increases enacted earlier this year, place a spending cap on state lawmakers, and require the legislature to double the amount of money it saves in good times for use as a rainy-day fund.

But in a poll conducted by the nonpartisan Survey USA on Monday, 57 percent of respondents said they oppose the plan, The Wall Street Journal reported.

With the state's economy battered by the recession, California's budget deficit had been projected to hit $42 billion through June 2010 before the governor and legislature reached an agreement earlier this year.

If the ballot measure is passed, the state will still run a deficit estimated at $15 billion. If it is rejected, the shortfall will grow to $21 billion.

Schwarzenegger has spent the past two months crisscrossing the state speaking in support of the measure, and has said that if it fails to pass, the state will cut at least $6 billion in spending on schools, health care and prisons, among other things, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Other measures being voted on in Tuesday's special election would enable to state to borrow $5 billion against future lottery revenues, and prohibit pay raises for elected state officials in years that the budget is in the red.

Schwarzenegger, who cannot run for re-election in 2010 due to term limits, said at an appearance last week: "This is not about my legacy, it's not about the politicians in Sacramento, it's not about Democrats versus Republicans, none of that. It's about putting the Golden State back on track."

The governor's approval rating is at an all-time low, 33 percent, according to a May 1 poll reported by The Journal.

But that's more than twice as high as the state legislature's approval rating, 14 percent.

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