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Poll: Jobs, economy top issues for Californians

By: BROOKE DONALD, Associated Press
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SAN JOSE (AP) — An overwhelming majority of Californians believe the state is mired in recession, while half of state residents worry that a family member will lose his or her job, according to a poll released Wednesday. The survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found that concerns over the economy weigh just as heavily on residents here as in the rest of the nation, and two in three say Congress and the Obama administration are not doing enough to create jobs. The poll said 40 percent of Californians believe the president's efforts so far have failed to get more people working. Still, more residents are likely to trust him on economic matters than Republicans in Congress, the survey found. "People are genuinely concerned at this stage of the economic cycle what's going to happen next," said Mark Baldassare, the institute's president and chief executive. "They're not feeling particularly encouraged by what's occurred to date, but they have not yet heard anything from the Republican side that would cause them to make a major shift away from the president." California's unemployment rate remains stuck at just more than 12 percent, the second highest in the nation behind Nevada. Roughly 2.2 million Californians were jobless in August, according to the state Economic Development Department. The poll also found that the consequences of the poor economy have hit home, as tax revenue to state and local governments has declined sharply. Across all regions of the state, most residents said their local government services and public schools have been affected by budget cuts. "People are finding this is a problem that has real consequences," Baldassare said. Residents also were asked about two ideas being floated by a congressional committee charged with striking a compromise to reduce the federal debt. Two-thirds of those polled said they supported raising taxes on businesses and higher-income earners, but opinion was divided about making changes to Social Security and Medicare. Concern over preserving the entitlement programs for seniors could be one reason why the tea party is losing favor, with more than half of Californians holding an unfavorable view of the movement, according to the poll. That compares with about 44 percent holding an unfavorable view a year ago. Among Democrats, 72 percent have a favorable impression of their own party while just 59 percent of Republicans have a favorable impression of the GOP. It also found that 53 percent of California adults support legalizing same-sex marriage, with 42 percent opposed. That's similar to a recent national poll by The Associated Press and the National Constitution Center. A year ago, California voters gave the Legislature — mostly majority Democrats — the authority to pass the state budget with a simple majority rather than a two-thirds vote. The Public Policy Institute survey found they are evenly divided over whether the simple majority rule should be extended to tax increases. By a 58 percent to 31 percent margin, most adults thought it would be a bad idea for the Legislature to be in session part-time rather than full time. The Public Policy Institute interviewed 2,002 California adults by telephone in Spanish and English from Sept. 6-13. The poll has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.