Californians in the dark

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.

Question #1
Where does California get the largest portion of its revenues from?
a)Sales tax
b)Income tax
c)Corporation tax
d)Car fees

Only 28 percent had the right answer (b), while a pathetically large 17 percent guessed car fees. Car fees? Wait, there's more.

Question #2
How does California spend its money?
b)Health and human services
c)K-12 education
d)Higher education

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.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent stories:
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
One last Florida photo
Signs of Saturday: No refund
'I Am Woman,' hear them roar
Bobcat crossing
Previous story: Voice of reason

Next story: Monday morning headlines

New at LA Observed
On the Media Page
Go to Media

On the Politics Page
Go to Politics
Arts and culture

Sign up for daily email from LA Observed

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
LA Observed on Twitter and Facebook