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.