The two most renowned public affairs polls in California confirm at every step the low confidence level state residents have in their state government and especially, its legislature. The latest Field poll found that only 19% of voters “trust” the effectiveness of the legislative power; PPIC found a similar number of optimistic respondents, 20%. The number of those who distrust reached 65% in both polls.
Is anyone puzzled about the origin of this situation?
This week, we again saw what type of actions, or lack thereof, make common Californians not believe the state government is capable of resolving the issues they need to address, like the budget-which is a tricky and complex issue, but a necessary one for the state to function well.
But there are also details, symbolic matters that speak very loudly about the seriousness of these public servants and their inability to put citizens above the special interests that are always trying to curry favor with all sorts of gifts and campaign contributions.
Thursday of this week, a California Assembly committee shelved a bill, SB 1426, without considering it. The bill’s objective was to ban the gifts that groups or individuals who lobby the legislature on behalf of causes or laws give to politicians. These gifts include concert and sporting events tickets, spa treatments and rounds of golf, among other entertaining activities.
By taking this step, the bill dies without a public vote, as if it had never existed and no one opposed it or approved of it either. This trick is often used so that no one goes “on the record,” but also to disregard an issue that is not convenient for politicians.
This measure would not have solved the state’s problems. But it would be an important symbolic step to show lawmakers are serious at a time of economic crisis, when everyday Californians are suffering the hardships of unemployment, social benefits cuts and the economic situation.
It is no wonder their approval level is so low. Once again, they have earned it.