A flurry of new Field Polls in the past week paint a picture of shifting winds in California politics, with new numbers out on Bush’s performance and the performance of Congress, the fortunes of the 2008 presidential candidates, the approval ratings of the governor, how the governor might fare in a hypothetical matchup against Barbara Boxer in 2010, and voter attitudes about the term-limits initative and the expansion of Indian gaming:
A recent policy document that got a lot of media attention was a California Budget project report about the cost of living in California. According to the report, on average, in order to make ends meet in California:
- A single adult needs an annual income of $28,336, equivalent to an hourly wage of $13.62;
- A single-parent family needs an annual income of $59,732, equivalent to an hourly wage of $28.72;
- A two-parent family with one employed parent needs an annual income of $50,383, equivalent to an hourly wage of $24.22;
- A family with two working parents needs an annual income of $72,343, equivalent to each parent working full-time for an hourly wage of $17.39.
The report goes into much more granular detail about the breakdown of the cost of living in California, including median household income compared to median home prices and the costs of housing and utilities, child care, transportation, food, health care coverage, and more.
California’s public school spending lags behind that of most of the rest of the nation. According to a California Budget Project fact sheet, California ranks 34th in K-12 spending per student, 34th in educational spending as a percentage of personal income, and 48th in the nation in student-per-teacher ratios.
The CBP report notes that California was either equal to or ahead of most of the rest of the country in these measures until beginning in roughly 1981-1982, which coincides with the point in time when Proposition 13 property tax revenue reductions caused a shift in financing from local to state revenues (a shift that was also precipitated by a series of court decisions starting in 1976 that held that California’s dependence on local revenues for public school financing discriminated against students in districts with low property tax wealth bases).
As of 2005-2006, the latest period for which figures are available, California’s public schools got 61.4% of their funding from the state, contrasted with 47.7% for the United States as a whole, according to numbers from the National Education Association.