02/02/2011 by California Forward

Californians see problems, but are optimistic about solutions

A study of more than 1,000 Californians released today by California Forward finds that, while the problems that face California are serious, an overwhelming number of Californians say the state is fixable and not ungovernable.

This is the first in a series of "California Viewpoints" surveys measuring the mood of Californians about their government, reforms and potential solutions. The survey included 1,020 Californians who mirror the makeup of California.

The survey also found that mistrust and lack of accountability at state and local levels is a major barrier to reforms. But regardless of differences, there is a general convergence across all demographic and political groups on the importance of efficiency, transparency and accountability as solutions.

While Californians believe government must listen to the people and regain their trust to move meaningful reform forward, they also believe that by focusing on performance outcomes government can work.

"This survey confirms what California Forward believes to be true: Californians believe our state is governable, and we must restore accountability, efficiency and trust to state and local government," said Bob Hertzberg, co-chair of California Forward’s leadership council. "Although 80 percent of Californians believe our problems are serious, they believe that by focusing on outcomes and increasing transparency we can develop real solutions that work."

Other key findings:

  • 86 percent of Californians believe it is possible for the state to be well run
  • 80 percent of Californians believe problems with state government are serious directly affect their daily lives
  • Those who closely follow media stories on government and politics are most likely to rate California’s problems as extremely serious but they are also most likely to say these problems can be fixed.
  • Top 3 problems with government are too much bureaucracy, waste, fraud, leaders not listening to regular people and elected officials aren’t held accountable.
  • Top 3 solutions include getting rid of programs that don’t produce results, require government to measure the effectiveness of programs and issuing regular reports on the results of all government programs.
  • There is very little appetite for new taxes or increased flexibility in spending.

"It is clear that Californians want to be a part of the solution," said California Forward leadership council member Bruce McPherson. "Elected officials must listen to the people in order to regain their trust and move forward with meaningful reforms. California Forward is committed to facilitating this conversation and advocating for a government that is transparent, accountable and focuses on results."

Read the contents of the entire survey conducted by Viewpoint Learning. You can also read an overview of the survey.

The online survey of 1,020 Californians was conducted from a mix of panels, Facebook and mobile intercepts from Dec. 9-19, 2010. The sample distribution matches California 2009 census data on gender, age, education and ethnicity. There was an exact match on official numbers on political affiliation and comparable numbers on ideology. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. 

Categories: Selected Blog Posts, Civic Engagement, Civic Engagement

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