As the state’s budget woes grow it is increasingly difficult to gauge what the public wants (or even understands.) The information channels are stuffed with corporate/conservative propaganda and astroturf like the “tea parties” but there is little comprehensive, accurate and truly objective information available to help the public understand what is happening. For example, few stories about the budget explain that a minority of only 1/3 of the legislature is blocking the passage of a budget, or that a budget was passed by the legislature in January and was vetoed by the Governor. Few stories explain the extent of budget cuts the state has already made.
The uninformed public isn’t helping solve this. Turnout for the special election was only about 28 percent of our 17.1 million registered voters, which is about 20% of the 23,385,819 eligible voters. So the election didn’t tell us what about 80% of our citizens want to do. It did show that a solid majority of 20% of us didn’t want those particular ballot initiatives. But what does this mean? While 31% of Los Angeles County voters were for proposition 1a, just this last November 68% voted for the Measure R sales tax increase. This corresponds with other gauges of the meaning of the special election. So the special election provides little guidance for policymakers.
An April Field Poll of Californians showed that Californians are against raising taxes and against cutting school budgets, health care and higher education. Should we conclude from this that they are just in favor of bankruptcy? Before we conclude bankruptcy is what people really want, we need some polling to see if people understand what it would mean to their own lives. For example, do pepole understand the economic effect from laying off all of the state employees, teachers, etc., closing down the schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, prisons, and stopping all the firefighting and police services that people expect. Are they really in favor of this, or do they just not understand what they are asking for?
Meanwhile, the poll found that 74% approve of increasing taxes on millionaires, and 56% favor legalizing and taxing
millionaires marijuana. So maybe there is some guidance from that.
These figures on taxes are supported by an April 15 Gallup poll finding that 48% of Americans think they are
paying the proper amount of taxes, but 60% believe the wealthy are
under-taxed (and “23 percent think they pay their fair share, and 13
percent feel that they are overburdened”).
The SEIU has just released a TV ad which they will be spending $1 million to run, along with a new website, CommonSenseForCA.org. They are asking for a balanced approach to fixing the budget, not just through cuts but also with new revenue. Here is the ad, and please visit the website.
Let us know what you think.
Great post, and public ignorance is probably the scariest part of this whole equation. (I still can’t believe how many people think Arnold isn’t part of the problem, even after his propositions fail time and time again)
One of the first steps I would endorse would be a campaign to educate Californians on how bad a deal we are getting on our federal taxes, 78 cents in to the state for every dollar sent to the federal government. With the federal gov’t refusing to “bailout” or “backstop” California debt at a cost of nothing, I don’t see why California shouldn’t fight to recoup lost taxes from the past decade.
Second, is to return California to a democracy, where majority (50% +1) rules. The 2/3 requirement is completely contrary to democracy, and the fact that our budget is held hostage by cronies like Abel Maldanado is disgusting. Why should a budget pass or fail depending on whether the state has “open” primaries?
Third, a rejection of a “cuts” mentality and a return to a “growth” mentality. Robert Reich wrote today about the current federal debt scare, with many points that apply to California too. “When the economy is cooking, more people have jobs and better wages. So they pay more taxes. And they require less unemployment assistance and other social insurance…. That growth path, by the way, will be faster and stronger if the nation invests in our infrastructure, our schools, and our environment… Public investments, just like family investments, build future wealth. They allow faster growth. They make the debt/GDP ratio even lower and more manageable over time.” Cuts will only push the problem elsewhere and/or to a later date.
Fourth, ending the prison culture and commuting all prison sentences for non violent offenders to community service. The role of prisons should be to rehabiliate criminals, not breed them.
Last, an editorial note, I believe “Meanwhile, the poll found that 74% approve of increasing taxes on millionaires, and 56% favor legalizing and taxing millionaires,” should read with the last word being marijuana, not millionaires.
Our way of governing by proposition has turned our constitution into an unworkable mishmash. We need to address that, rid ourselves of the 2/3 requirement, and do away with term limits.
I believe we would be much better off if California had its own bank. Bankers have the privilege of creating money. It works well in North Dakota and would work here as well.
Great post Dave and a well thought out reply Ben!
it’s not that we Californian’s are uninformed on the MESS that is currently in place in our state we just are fed up with all of the handouts that we provide to EVERYONE! un-documented families move here for a better life – good for them! – but as soon as they find out that they are eligible for some type of hand-out (i.e. medical, ER services, welfare, free tuition, etc.etc.) they take full advantage and guess what? they call their families from Mexico, San Salvador, Honduras, etc. and they all come in expecting handouts! am all for assisting those in great need but as you can see we have overdone it. Let’s not mention the idiots that we have in office – that is such a joke that they should all be voted out of office. Also, we the ones who pass propositions that allows non-profit organizations to have BILLIONS in the bank and earning MILLIONS – we can’t touch that money to save our asses!
I’ve been a voter all my life and will continue to vote BUT am tired of the handouts and hope one day to leave this state.
I don’t see Hanna Beth commenting on health care. She has hers and she does not care that the state’s biggest problem is furnishing medical care to those less fortunate. She is capable of making a difference, but I don’t see her doing anything but complaining because she is not one of those in office creating the problems of California.