SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California voters approve of Governor Jerry Brown's job performance by a more than 2-1 margin, which is sharply at odds with how they view lawmakers, according to survey findings released on Tuesday.
The findings come as the Democrat-led legislature takes up bills making up Brown's plan to close a state budget gap of close to $27 billion. The Democratic governor is battling to get Republicans to agree to a statewide budget referendum.
The survey by The Field Poll found 48 percent approve of the job the 72-year-old Democrat has been doing since taking the oath of office in January for a third term -- he served as governor of California in the 1970s and 1980s -- compared to 21 percent who disapprove and 31 percent who have no opinion.
"Brown's current job appraisals compare favorably with those given immediate predecessors at comparable periods," the survey report said.
In contrast, voters maintain the low opinion of the legislature they have held over most of the past ten years, and especially over the last three years: 16 percent approve of the job the legislature is doing and 70 percent disapprove.
California lawmakers last week approved bills for some $12 billion in spending cuts. This week they aim to address legislation that would ask voters in June to extend temporary tax increases that expire this year to raise roughly $12 billion in revenue, an effort Republicans oppose.
California's shortfall is the biggest of any U.S. state at a time when markets and lawmakers in Washington are concerned about wobbly state finances.
The Field Poll conducted its survey from February 28 through March 14. The firm contacted 898 registered voters who were interviewed in English and Spanish over telephones and mobile phones. The survey's maximum sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.
(Reporting by Jim Christie; editing by Todd Eastham)