Tag Archives: PPIC

PPIC’s New Report Cites Voter Desire for Initiative Reform

Voters favor the overall process, but see value in tweaks

by Brian Leubitz

The Public Policy Institute of California is out with a new report on the California initiative process (PDF). The quick takeaway: voters love it, but want to change it. In fact, the percentage of voters saying that they like the system has stayed about the same over the past ten years. In their most recent poll, 72% of voters supported the system. Despite the fact that most voters spend a few spare minutes about the proposed changes, about six in 10 adults (57%) and likely voters (60%) say that the decisions made by California voters are probably better than those made by the governor and state legislature. All that positivity despite the fact that 63% of likely voters think that special interests have too much control over the initiative system and 67% feel that there are too many initiatives. So, there’s that.

But, in the end we do pay those legislators to become experts on public policy, so why not use them? And it turns out that the voters aren’t actually against that, and favor two common sense reforms that would align the use of the plebiscite with our representative democracy:

Three in four adults say that the initiative process is in need of either major (40%) or minor changes (36%), while only 17 percent say it is fine the way it is.

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Eight in 10 (79% adults, 78% likely voters) favor having a period of time during which the initiative sponsor and the legislature could meet to look for a compromise solution before an initiative goes to the ballot. … Overwhelming majorities of adults (76%) and likely voters (77%) support a system of review and revision for proposed initiatives to try to avoid legal issues and drafting errors. … Lowering the vote threshold for the legislature to place tax measures on the ballot has solid majority support among adults (61%) and likely voters (60%). (PPIC Report)

Those first two reforms would go a long way toward reducing the number of measures actually on the ballot. While some subject matters will never really have the support in the legislature and will end up at the ballot, the time for public discussion in the legislature will be positive either way. Of course, that also raises another route for special interests to control the debate, as they can force issues onto the legislative docket even if they don’t plan on supporting the measure at the ballot.

The final issue is a little more surprising, as voters think that they should get the chance to vote on revenue issues more frequently. Perhaps this is somewhat a function of the Governor’s campaign promises to bring his taxes to the ballot, but the myth of the state’s love for supermajorities takes another blow here.  While it still won’t allow revenues to get a simple majority in the legislature, which would be a true representative democracy, it is a step in the right direction.

All of these changes would require measures on the ballot after approval from the legislature or signature gathering. It would not be a big shock for reforms along these lines show up in the next legislative session, but as constitutional reforms, they would still face challenges to getting to the ballot.

PPIC Poll Confirms Brown Budget Support

Also shows record support for marriage equality and increasing support for split roll tax

by Brian Leubitz

The CBRT poll earlier today showed strong support of the Governor’s budget plan, but the confirmation of the Public Policy Institute means quite a bit. And Brown’s cautious plans seem to be popular:

When read a brief description of the overall budget proposal, solid majorities of Californians (61%) and likely voters (60%) favor the plan, which includes increased spending for K-12 education and modest increases to higher education, health and human services, and corrections. The governor’s plan would also reduce state debt and maintain a $1.1 billion reserve-a potential focus of debate, as some Democratic legislators look to restore funding to social services. When asked about the tradeoff, a majority of Californians (55%) prefer paying down debt and building a reserve to restoring some funding for social service programs (39%). Likely voters are twice as likely to prefer reducing the debt (62%) to restoring funding to social services (32%). (PPIC Publications)

There is still a lot of question as to how the K-12 funds will be dispersed, as the Legislature is a little unsure of the Governor’s plan. But with the Governor’s budget attempting to reserve as much money as possible, other spending priorities will find it difficult sledding.

Some other interesting findings of the poll:

  • Support for marriage equality hit a new high: 56%.
  • 57% of Californians want additional gun control
  • More Californians think the state is headed in the wrong direction (48%) than the right direction (46%)
  • 57% of Californians think global warming will have an impact on their life
  • There is a lot more data available, go check it out at the PPIC website.

    PPIC Poll Looks At What We Know of Education

    New PPIC poll show support for additional local control

    by Brian Leubitz

    The PPIC poll, besides taking the standard poll numbers for the governor and Legislature, focuses on an issue at each release. This month, they take a look at what we know of our education system, and what we can do to improve it. But first, you can see from the graph that Gov. Brown is down slightly from his 51% peak in January, but still hovering in a pretty solid position. Without any recognizable challenger on the horizon, these are numbers that should carry him to an easy re-election. However, the political types always prefer to see the approval number above 50%, but there just aren’t any California politicians that really have any numbers that are better now.

    The legislature also peaked in January, when they almost reached parity with their disapproval numbers (41-42). They continue a dive back to their normal numbers, this time at 31-53. January’s highs are probably not all that surprising, given the freshly balanced budget that was emerging at the beginning of the year due to the passage of Prop 30. And then, as we tend to not trust our politicians in California, no news is bad news and numbers trend down. But without the major crises that we faced a few years back with our budget, perhaps the new normal on those numbers is higher now.

    Moving on to education, we get something of a mixed bag. First of all, few Californians know just how much are schools are being starved of resources. Only 36% knew that we were near the bottom of the fifty states in per pupil spending. On the flip side, more survey respondents (47%) knew that California ranks below average for test results.

    But what of those test results? How valuable are they really? Well, here is how Californians see the value of testing:

    When asked how confident they are that standardized tests accurately indicate a student’s progress and abilities, about half of Californians say they are very (11%) or somewhat (42%) confident, while 44 percent are not too confident (27%) or not at all confident (17%). Californians were more confident about testing in April 2006 than they are today (63% vs. 53%). Californians are more likely to say that students in their communities get the right amount of testing in elementary and middle school schools (40%) and high school (39%) than they are to say that students get too much testing (24% elementary and middle school, 21% high school) or not enough (29% elementary and middle school, 31% high school).

    To be completely honest, I’m not sure what you are supposed to make of those numbers. Apparently we do too much, but too little, but exactly the right amount of testing.

    And that is not where the contradictions end. We like our local schools, but every other school isn’t so great. Perhaps that is a result of a real desire for additional local control. In fact, 78% of respondents said that they would support additional local control of the school districts.

    Finally, and most importantly for the Governor, large majorities (71%) also favor his plan to increase funding more rapidly for schools with higher percentages of English language learners and low-income students, with 74% believing that system will improve the results.

    Clearly there is a much larger discussion still to come about school funding over the next few months.

    PPIC Poll–54% of voters choose life without parole

    Note by Brian: In the wake of the “execution” of Troy Davis, it is more important than ever to end the death penalty in California and across the nation.  Murder is still murder, even when it has the patina of a cover in the form of a dysfunctional justice system.  Taxpayers for Justice  and their SAFE California campaign have committed to ending the death penalty in California via the ballot box.  There are many reasons to do so, but the time for this is now.

    SAFE California Campaign

    A new poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) showed 54% of Californians prefer life imprisonment with no possibility of parole, with only 39% preferring the death penalty.

    The PPIC report shows a clear preference for life in prison with no chance of parole for all adults across the state.  Support was strongest among residents of Los Angeles (62%) and Latinos (67%), California residents under 35 and those earning less than $40,000.

    “These new numbers confirm what we already know to be true: across the state and across party lines, California voters are ready to replace our dysfunctional death penalty with life in prison without parole,” said Jeanne Woodford, former warden of San Quentin and spokesperson for the SAFE California campaign. “Voters express even greater support for striking the death penalty when they have the option to choose life without parole with work and restitution to families through our victim compensation fund.”

    PPIC’s most recent findings are in line with other polling data on the death penalty in California and nationwide:

    • A 2011 statewide survey of likely voters conducted by David Binder Research showed 63% of likely voters support converting all current death row sentences to life imprisonment without any possibility of parole in order to save the state $1 billion dollars in five years, where the money saved would be used for public education and law enforcement. The idea was supported by voters from all political parties and from across all regions of the state.

    • A 2010 national survey of registered voters conducted by Lake Research Partners revealed that a clear majority of voters nationwide (61%) would choose a punishment other than the death penalty if it were available.

    • A 2009 poll of eligible California voters conducted by Professor Craig Haney from the University of California Santa Cruz found that 66% prefer life without parole with work and restitution, over the death penalty.

    “Yesterday’s protests and vigils against the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia are a vivid reminder that the death penalty will always risk the execution of innocent people,” added Woodford. “More and more the public is realizing that the only way to protect the innocent is to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole.”

    “California is no different. California’s death penalty brings with it enormous costs, it saps money from the investigation of open rape and murder cases, and here too it brings the risk of executing an innocent person. That’s why we are confident that voters will replace it with life imprisonment, if given the chance to vote on the issue – 33 years and $4 Billion dollars later.”

    The SAFE California campaign will start gathering signatures in October to put before the voters at the November 2012 election an initiative to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole with work and restitution. The campaign is supported by a coalition of law enforcement leaders, murder victim family members, exonerees and advocates.

    PPIC: Special Election Initially Popular

    We’ve seen that the Republicans are scared of letting the voters vote on taxes. The Norquistians are saying that even putting taxes on the ballot is a violation of the no-tax pledge.  Something has got them nervous, perhaps that’s because of numbers like these:

    The poll, just released, shows strong support for Brown’s special statewide election on budget fixes, as well as reasonably strong support for his suggestion to erase California’s deficit with a mix of cuts and taxes.

    The Public Policy Institute of California finds 66% of voters surveyed like the idea of a special election to consider budget issues. That includes not just an overwhelming majority of Democrats (74%) but a majority (55%) of Republicans, too.

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    While the poll offers several more interesting nuggets (like an affirmation of the fiscal disconnect affecting the state’s voters which we’ve discussed before), here’s one more that helps explain why Governor Brown’s budget not only protects K-12 schools (for the most part), but puts them front and center should the voters reject the $11 billion in tax extensions he wants on a June statewide ballot: 75% say they oppose any more K-12 cuts, and 71% say they’d pay higher taxes to spare those schools.(Capital Notes)

    In fact, a strong plurality rejects a cuts only budget.  Only 36% favor cuts alone, while 49% prefer at least some taxes, and another 7% favors additional debt.  As to which taxes, well, the corporate tax is still tax number one.  Too bad the voters just chose to preserve a $1.5 billion corporate tax cut. I guess it goes to show you what a bit of campaign propaganda can do.  You can grab all of the numbers at the PPIC survey here.

    The voters clearly still need additional information on how our system works. They don’t quite understand how we fund our budget, and where it all goes.  But, at the same time, I think voters understand more than they are given credit for in the media and amongst some political circles.

    Governor Brown’s budget is far from perfect, but it’s enough that it is scaring the Right. And that’s a start.

    Is California Really “Bleeding Jobs” to Other States?

    Meg Whitman keeps reciting the same misinformation about job loss resulting from California’s bad business climate, claiming that businesses are leaving California because of “over-regulation”. But the truth is, we have lost fewer jobs than neighboring states that have fewer worker protections and lower taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Arizona, Nevada and Oregon had over 6.5% job loss, while California had 4%.

    As KQED’s John Myers points out-

    The “bleeding of jobs” — the notion that a large number of jobs are businesses are fleeing California — is a familiar talking point in state politics these days, especially among Republicans. But in the only broad, longitudinal nonpartisan study out there, the numbers don’t match the rhetoric.

    According to the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), California loses very few jobs to other states, and businesses rarely move either out of or into California.  A recent report found that

    The annual net employment change in California due to relocation — a loss of about 9,000 jobs — represents only 0.05% of California’s 18 million jobs.

    Not only is Whitman wrong on the big picture, the specifics she cites aren’t credible either. She continually points to aerospace giant Northrop Grumman’s relocation from Long Beach to Virginia as evidence of businesses fleeing the state. Which would make sense… except that Northrop Grumman didn’t actually leave California. They moved their corporate headquarters, which amounts to just 1 percent of their workforce, while over 30,000 employees remain here in California.

    This isn’t the first time Whitman has twisted the facts to support her corporate agenda. One of her favorite examples of how California regulations stifle business is that it took eBay subsidiary PayPal over two years to break ground on a building in San Jose. The truth, as the San Jose Mercury News reported, is that that the city processed eBay’s development application in record time, and the delay was actually caused by eBay.

    So why does Whitman keep making this stuff up? Because in the face of record unemployment, Meg Whitman has no real solutions. The centerpiece of Whitman’s economic plan, eliminating the capital gains tax, would do little to create jobs, but would be a boon for millionaires and billionaires.

    Economists and experts agree that Whitman’s proposals would do far more harm than good. According to the LA Times:

    Many policy experts say such plans will do little in the short term to create the 2 million new jobs Whitman promises: The state’s bleak economy is primarily the result of its deep investment in the real estate boom. The resulting mortgage crisis and credit crunch led to hundreds of thousands of construction-related workers being laid off in an industry that is unlikely to rebound anytime soon.

    It’s no surprise Whitman doesn’t want to talk about the foreclosure crisis and subsequent job loss – after all, she sat on the board of Goldman Sachs, which has been the subject of several federal investigations for its role in the subprime lending collapse. And she’s continued to avoid answering questions about the mortgage-backed securities that made her rich while working-class families lost their homes and life savings.

    There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether Abel Maldonado, Schwarzenegger’s appointed Lieutenant Governor, has been exploiting the tragedy of the San Bruno gas fire for political gain. But what about Meg Whitman’s shameless exploitation of the economic hardship workers in California are enduring?

    Whitman has already spent over $119 million dollars trying to convince voters that she understands our pain. But in reality, she’s exploiting the economic downturn to help her corporate cronies get even richer by doling out huge tax breaks to millionaires while rolling back the workplace rights and protections that make California a great place to live and work. Learn more about Whitman’s jobs plan at http://www.WallStreetWhitman.com.

    PPIC Poll Shows Californians Actually Do Care about the “Weather”

    Remember back to early June when Carly Fiorina called climate change “the weather”? Well, it seems that while Carly might have impressed the GOP base with that message, it’s not really a winning message for the general electorate.

    PPIC just released its “Californians and the environment” poll, and while the numbers could be better for Boxer, who is leading Fiorina by a 39-34 tally, there is still a lot to like here.  A few tidbits:

    • The Weather: Two-thirds (67%) favor AB 32. However, 42% would favor Prop 23’s goal of holding off until we hit better job figures(53% oppose). Of course, this is why Dan Logue’s measure plugs in this ridiculous 5.5% unemployment number for several quarters. He wants to kill AB 32, but doesn’t want to say that flat out.  So, he’ll use some artificial threshold (actually below what most economists consider to be equilibrium for unemployment) and put lipstick on that pig.

      In the end, even the lipstick is only producing a modest uptick.

    • More Climate Change: Also of concern to Logue must be the numbers of Californians that think AB 32 will not hurt our jobs numbers. 45% think it will result in more jobs, with only 23% saying fewer jobs.  Further, 48% of Californians say the state isn’t doing enough to combat climate change (52% for the feds). This electorate flat out does not look prepared to overturn AB 32.
    • Carbon Tax: It turns out that most people haven’t heard the details of the proposals. But when they do, they know how the world really works.  After hearing brief descriptions of cap and trade and a carbon tax, 60% said they would support the carbon tax, with only 50% supporting the cap and trade.
    • Off-shore Drilling: Rather unsurprisingly, this is where Mother Nature made her biggest public opinion gains.  Most Californians now oppose more offshore drilling (59% oppose, 36% favor)-a 16-point increase in opposition from last year (43% oppose, 51% favor). Also coming from the land of Obvious, very few people trust the government’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Of course, PPIC also did some political numbers. I mentioned Boxer’s 39-34 lead, but Brown also holds a small lead at 37-34.  I’ll have to say that these numbers should start concerning Whitman soon.  Brown hasn’t really done much to combat all of her TV spending, and he’s still got himself in a decent position.  When Brown goes up, you have to figure these numbers only move in his direction. Oh, and the state still really dislikes Arnold (25% approval) and the Legislature (15%).

    There is a lot of work to do not only for November, but also for the greater theme of protecting the environment. But, all in all, I am rather encouraged by these numbers.  If we are able to muster some sort of a field campaign, California might just end up as a bright spot for Democrats in the 2010 elections.

    PPIC Releases Mass of Data: Good News/Bad News

    The Public Policy Institute of California has released their statewide survey, and it contains a slew of data, from approval ratings, to opinions on structural reform. (Full PDF Report here)

    I won’t go through the full litany of approval scores, but it is worth mentioning that the approval ratings for both the President and Congress are down since the May Statewide survey.  A very large chunk of that is coming from Democrats. In other words, the President, with his failure to clearly state his position is losing his base. Now, this data is obviously from before the speech on Wednesday, but I doubt the numbers would move all the way back to May numbers.  What President Obama needs to do is to actually get real health care reform. Anything less and we could be in for an ugly midterm election. And for electoral purposes, it’s good to see Sen. Boxer over 50%.

    On the state side, yeah, pretty much everybody hates both the Legislature and the Governor. The ratings are relatively flat, with Arnold at just over thirty percent, and the Leg just over 20.  The more interesting data came from the structural side, with a bit of contradictory data thrown in for some added spice. Voters want to change the 2/3 budget rule by a count of 54-40. Now, PPIC asked about 55 percent, but I wouldn’t really expect majority to be all that different given other polling I’ve seen. For some reason, it appears the revenue question was skipped for the Prop 218 question. That is whether local taxes should only require a reduced super majority, which was favored by 50% in the poll.

    Given the lack of trust in the legislature, it wasn’t surprising to see the support for term limits over 60% and the support for initiatives as better policy making venues than the legislature.  Apparently a few Californians think we live in Athens circa 400 BCE.

    Anyway, check the full poll out, and point out your favorite fun fact in the comments.

    More Lies and Deceptions on Immigration Debunked

    It’s about time that progressives start fighting back against the demonization of immigration that will be laced into every policy critique that Republicans make between now and November.  The Public Policy Institute of California has helpfully provided the facts on just one of the many falsehoods peddled about immigration.

    Fears that immigration leads to rising crime rates are unjustified, says a California study released Monday.

    The report by the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan research group, asked the question: Are the foreign-born more likely than the U.S.-born to commit crimes?

    “In California, as in the rest of the nation, immigrants … have extremely low rates of criminal activity,” said Kristin Butcher, a co-author of the report, “Crime, Corrections and California: What Does Immigration Have to Do With It?”

    Available data, the report’s authors said, “suggest that long-standing fears of immigration as a threat to public safety are unjustified.”

    Just as fears about immigrants stealing government services and free health care are unjustified.  Just as fears about immigrants sinking the economy are unjustified.  In fact, all that Republicans base this debate on is fear, which for them is of course redundant.

    I’ll refer to something I wrote many months ago about the preferred progressive approach to the immigration debate:

    “My opponents on the other side of the aisle have spent practically their entire primary campaign engaged in demagoguery over the issue of immigration.  They put out ads accusing immigrants of murder and rape, they encourage the arrest of church leaders that offer aid and services, and they advocate building fences and deporting millions of undocumented workers.

    But the truth is, they don’t want to fix this.  So-called “illegal immigration” is the best thing that’s ever happened to the Republican Party.  They have had nearly 30 years of relative dominance in Washington to deal with the problem.  But if they ever fixed it, they would have to answer for the real reasons there is a teetering economy, soaring health care and gas prices, growing inequality and a whole generation of Americans destined to do worse than their parents.  Immigrants are nothing more than a scapegoat, and anyone who’s read a history book or has Irish or Italian heritage knows that there’s a long tradition of that in this country.  Conservative politicians who have seen their economic ideas fail must find someone, anyone to blame.  If so-called illegal immigration went away tomorrow, there wouldn’t be anything left.  Their failed ideology would be laid bare.  They don’t want to get rid of illegal immigrants.  They don’t want to do anything about it.  They want a safety valve for their own shortcomings.”

    Our top potential legislative pickups come in areas where the spectre of “illegal immigration” is sure to be floated.  There’s absolutely no reason to cower in the face of such attacks.  The issue has fizzled even at the Republican ballot box this primary season, and it’s built on a web of lies.  Memo to Democratic candidates: there’s nothing to fear here.