Confronting our own budget ignorance
A s a public opinion researcher, I see time and again that voters are becoming less aware of how government works and the benefits government provides them. As a citizen, I'm deeply troubled by this.
At least eight out of 10 Oregon voters oppose cutting services to seniors and funding for K-12 education to balance the state budget. And more than half think the state spends "too much" on services other than education, public safety, health care and services to seniors. But nearly two-thirds did not offer an estimate of the percentage of the state budget that goes to those "other" services. The average answer for those who did offer an estimate was 32 percent. But in fact, more than 90 percent of the state budget goes to the named services that voters clearly support and less than 10 percent goes to "other" services.
Mr. Davis and his ilk (Citizens for Oregon's Future) want us to look at how tax dollars are spent in a very general way. They will show you a pie chart that says X% goes to schools, X% goes to public safety, and only X% goes to "other" things.
Unfortunately a good deal of government waste is embedded in the much supported school's budget. That X% which is "named" and "clearly supported" has things like cultural coordinators, Spanish outreach programs, OSU Extension Family and Community Development Programs that teach illegal aliens how to make homemade cheese safely...
Let's not look at the pie chart when it comes to government waste. Look at the government job classifieds, look at the programs for illegal aliens that are part of DHS or education, look at the wages of public employees (average more than Oregonians in the private sector).
To say that asking government to "prioritize" is misguided when, by law, 1% of all public works projects (like building jails) has to be spent on artwork is just stupid.