Out of Control Policy Blog

PPIC: "CA Voters: What They Donít Know Could Hurt Us?"

The latest Public Policy Institute of California statewide poll is a zinger--

Although California has substantial debt and a large, ongoing budget gap, 64 percent of likely voters support Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to issue $43.3 billion more in bonds to increase funding for education facilities, prisons, water storage, and other infrastructure projects. Besides that, when told that California has approved approximately $93 billion in bonds over the past decade, 59 percent of likely voters say that amount is about right or "too little."...What might explain this spending complacency from voters who consistently tell surveys that government wastes their tax dollars? It could be what they don't know: 52 percent of voters admit that they know very little (43%) or nothing (9%) about how bonds are paid for in California. A mere 6 percent say they know a lot. "We don't know how deep the lack of understanding runs," says PPIC president and CEO Mark Baldassare. "Many voters may be thinking about bonds as free money, and not as debt that has to be repaid with interest."

Voters are equally uninformed about another critical issue they may be voting on next year – the term limits of state legislators. And they are apparently even more conflicted. When asked to name the maximum number of years a legislator can hold office in California, only 1 percent of likely voters and all adults could give the correct answer – 14 years....Moreover, a majority of those who think current term limits provide the right amount of time also say they would vote yes on the initiative that changes those limits (56%).

I'm thinking we need billboards and skywriters flying over the state with the message "Bonds are a tax you pay twice," but other ideas are welcome. The full survey is here.

Skaidra Smith-Heisters is Policy Analyst


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