How on earth are state voters supposed to make intelligent decisions about who to elect and what initiatives to support if they don't know how the place works? The LAT's Cathleen Decker looks at a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California that asks some pretty basic questions about where the state gets its money and how that money gets spent. A large majority don't have a clue.
Where does California get the largest portion of its revenues from?
Only 28 percent had the right answer (b), while a pathetically large 17 percent guessed car fees. Car fees? Wait, there's more.
How does California spend its money?
b)Health and human services
Only 16 percent had it right (c), while almost half said prisons.
None of this surprises budget veterans. Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, recounted a running bet when she and others attend focus groups of Californians about the budget. How long will it take before someone asks: Schools don't have enough money? What about the lottery? "It's never more than 13 minutes," Ross said. "That's because it was sold to voters as 'billions of dollars for your school.' It wasn't sold to voters as '1% of the money for your child's school.' " Indeed, the lottery has paid more than $20 billion to education since 1985. That, however, is less than half the education budget for this year alone.