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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The California Journal of Politics and Policy (CJPP) is an online journal of original scholarship, focusing on state and local politics, public policy formation and implementation, especially in the Golden State.


Californians' Beliefs About Income Inequality

Rising income inequality and wealth in America have attracted substantial public attention in recent years. As evidence has mounted that the gap betwen the affluent and the poor has been increasing, elected officials, scholars, journalists, and even figures from popular culture have discussed the causes and effects of this phenomenon. The focus of the debate has often been the economic trends rather than the views of a broad sampling of Americans.  But public opinion can condition policy responses, and it is important to measure public opinion on economic inequality, its causes, and potential remedies. This IGS Research Brief seeks to understand public opinion in California about this issue. It describes and analyzes the results of an IGS Poll on income inequality, its perceived causes, and the views of Californians regarding possible responses.

Funding Challenges at the University of California: Balancing Quantity with Quality and the Prospect of a Significantly Revised Social Contract

After three decades of state disinvestment, the University of California (UC) faces significant challenges and misunderstandings regarding its operating costs, its mission, and its wide array of activities. Reduced funding from the state for public higher education, including UC, has essentially severed the historic link between state allocations and enrollment workload, altering the incentive and ability for UC to expand academic programs and enrollment in pace with California’s growing population and economic needs – what formed an important component of its historic social contract. “To grow or not to grow?” is the question that now confronts the University of California and, more generally, Californians. On the positive side, an improved economy offers a window for a renewed commitment to fund public high education. Yet the most recent budget deal with the state provides only a marginal reinvestment in the university and restricts its ability to move toward a new funding model. The historic commitment to grow with the needs of California that propelled much of the state’s economic activity and socioeconomic mobility is, for the first time, an unfunded mandate with little prospect for resurrection in the immediate term. Without adequate state funding, and with a high level of institutional autonomy guaranteed in the state constitution, the university community is much less likely to continue the path of unfunded enrollment growth that erodes the quality of its teaching, research, and public service programs.

The Evolution of Attitudes on Same-Sex Marriage in California and the U.S.

This article focuses on the impact of morality politics and issue framing on attitudes toward same-sex marriage.  The comparative data come from California surveys by the Public Policy Institute of California and national surveys by the Pew Research Center and the National Opinion Research Center between 2005 and 2013.

Issue framing has played a critical role in the debate on same-sex marriage.  Same-sex marriage appears driven by issue framing about morality politics, which, unlike other policy arenas characterized by high information costs and limited access, features conflict over fundamental values. Much of the debate has turned on a conflict between traditional morality and equality.  The rise of competitive issue frames suggests that political conflict and public attitudes toward same-sex marriage should reflect, at least in part, the factors noted by Haider and Markel: ideology, party competitiveness, and partisanship.

Support for same-sex marriage has increased in both the U.S. and California, although support is stronger in California by about five percent.  Using logistic regression, the strongest direct explanatory factors were similar to those at the U.S. level: partisanship, ideology, Protestant religious affiliation, and whether the respondent classified him or herself as born again.  A range of demographic, political, social, regional, and time factors has also had a significant effect on support.  The relevant influence of the factors was virtually identical in both California and at the national level with the correlation between the changes in odds ratios for the two analyses reaching 0.97.

Overall, increased support for same-sex marriage appears to be a permanent shift in the political landscape and reflects a shift in the dominant issue frame of the policy debate.

Targeting Agriculture: Air Quality Policy in California’s San Joaquin Valley

Senate Bill (SB) 700 (2003) ended California agriculture’s exemption from national air permits and established a regulatory system of permits and stringent cleanup standards.  The legislation also provided agricultural interests ample consideration in both administrative rules and who/what would be covered under the permit system.  Policy narratives important in explaining this policy design include:  “agriculture as significant contributor” and “agriculture as victim.”  These narratives reveal the construction of target populations that portrayed agricultural interests as deserving both policy benefits and punishment.  The policy tools created in the legislation both benefited and assessed burdens to this group.  The relationship between regulators and agricultural interests was open and allowed for the negotiation of rules and coverage of the permit system.  Analysis of these narratives has important implications for policy theory and practitioners.

Collaboration and Equity in Regional Sustainability Planning in California: Challenges in Implementation

Regions across the United States have developed sustainability plans and programs funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI). In California, this grant overlapped with a state mandate for regional sustainability planning, SB 375, legislation charging regions with developing long-range sustainability plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Regional agencies lead sustainability planning efforts, yet little is known about how effective and equitable regions are in their engagement with sustainability planning. We examined how three federally funded SCI projects in California incorporate social equity and explore the process and outcomes. We focus on the conditions under which regional collaboration is most conducive to incorporating equity. We found that equity approaches vary greatly by region and are as much about process as product. Networks of information sharing, trust and relationships in regions awarded SCI grants have increased. However, regional sustainability planning processes are not without conflict as participants maneuver though historic institutional challenges.

Overvoting and the Equality of Voice under Instant-Runoff Voting in San Francisco

In 2004 San Francisco began using Instant-Runoff Voting for local elections. Early analyses revealed that after its inaugural use the rate at which voters ranked candidates dropped dramatically, and disqualifying errors on the ballots were more common in neighborhoods where more African-American and foreign-born citizens reside (Neely and Cook 2008). We extend the inquiry over time, examine other types of elections, and refine the methodology. Are some voters more than others able to exercise the franchise in these elections and, if so, what does that imply for the equality of political voice? We find no evidence that ranking candidates is in decline. Overvotes are more common in IRV than plurality contests, but such errors appear to be a function of complexity in general and not IRV per se. While they occur disproportionately in precincts with more African-American residents, and are often more likely where Latino, elderly, foreign-born, and less wealthy citizens reside, the pattern of overvoting is similar in both IRV and non-IRV contests. We discuss what these results imply for San Francisco and other jurisdictions using or considering similar election systems.

What Factors Determine Support for a Parcel Tax: Evidence From Survey Data

Oftentimes, survey data is used to gauge voter interest in supporting a ballot measure.  In 2012 The City of Mountain View, California conducted an Affordable Housing Parcel Tax Feasibility Survey to see whether its residents would support a ballot measure.  They conducted a phone survey of 400 likely November 2012 voters.   As part of the survey questionnaire, the city was interested in whether voters could be persuaded to support a parcel tax through a set of pro and con arguments.  The city wondered if it would be worth the effort to inform voters before deciding whether or not they favored the proposal?  We obtained the raw survey data collected by City of Mountain View.  The survey asked residents how likely they would support a specific parcel tax rate and whether they would change their support based on a set of pro/con arguments.  We estimated several logit models that included several control variables to see the impact of providing more information to a likely voter.  Our results show that prior beliefs about taxes in general and whether people support subsidized housing strongly determines the likelihood of predicting support, or lack of, for a parcel tax, and that pro/con arguments have small and contradictory effects on changing voter opinions.

The California Judiciary

The California judiciary is one of three branches of the state government.  This paper provides an overview of the current court system, its historical development, its relationship with the other branches of state government and the federal courts, and a comparison of California's judiciary with other states' judicial systems.