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SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 24: California Gov. Jerry Brown stands next to a chart that shows dollar amounts in the millions that were cut from the State's budget following a bill signing on March 24, 2011 in Sacramento, California. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed 13 bills into law that will cut $11.2 billion from California's budget deficit. $12.6 billion still needs to be cut to balance the budget. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
It's far too early for anyone in Gov. Jerry Brown's Capitol office complex, known as "The Horseshoe", to be making sounds of celebration.
Nor would that be smart, given the announcement today of "trigger cuts" to education and other state programs.
But a new poll out this week certainly holds signs of encouragement for the governor and his advisors, as they gear up to sell some tough medicine to California voters in 2012.
That poll, from the Public Policy Institute of California, shows that 60 percent of likely voters are supportive of the governor's proposal to temporarily raise taxes on the wealthy and boost the sales tax.
60 percent is a traditional threshold. Any measure that starts out with support below that is in rough water from the start, since support for any proposal tends to go down as the opposition arrows start to fly.
Brown, who recently formed a committee called "Californians to Protect Schools, Universities and Public Safety", knows that he'll need to aggressively fund-raise and enlist the support of key labor unions, like the California Teachers Association, in order to put together an effective campaign.
The poll indicates that voters are at least willing to listen at this point, and seem especially interested in a measure that would protect public education from further cuts.
The numbers, coincidentally enough, form a backdrop for today's announcement from Gov. Brown of so-called "trigger cuts" to state spending. Those cuts were included as part of last summer's budget deal as a fix should state revenues not meet projections.
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, says he's hopeful the full trigger won't be pulled for education. That would mean a $1.8 billion dollar hit to schools in mid-year. But there will be cuts.
Gov. Brown knows he'd be hammered for failing to follow through on those cuts. And of course those same cuts would be used to underscore his arguments for additional resources. Those cuts, by the way, won't affect just education, but social service programs as well.
Anti-tax groups are just now gearing up to poke holes in the tax hike plan.
This week's poll, and today's announcement of cuts, effectively serve as the launch pad for the Great Tax Fight that looms in 2012.