How Much Does the Public Know About the State Budget, and Does it Matter?
California Journal of Politics and Policy, Vol. 2, No. 3, 2010
22 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2011
Date Written: October 1, 2010
The budget crises of recent years have left the sense that California legislators are unwilling or unable to work together. Is public misinformation part of the problem? The Statewide Survey of the Public Policy Institute of California has repeatedly shown that most California voters have only the barest sense of where the state gets its money or what it spends it on. If voters were better informed, would they change their opinions about the budget, possibly opening a way to compromise? To answer this question, I simulate the effect of full information on opinions about budget-related issues. The results suggest that a hypothetical fully informed electorate might be less supportive of spending, but would mostly hold opinions about the budget similar to the ones they hold now. Budget opinion is driven less by information than by broad predispositions like party affiliation and ideology, as well as feelings about specific issues and groups.
Keywords: California budget, taxes, spending, public opinion, public knowledge
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