published on June 20, 2022 - 11:17 AM
Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.

The cost of living is the main lens through which voters consider public policy in California. It might not be much of a surprise, but this finding from a recent California Chamber of Commerce poll confirms people are tired of seeing quality of life diminish.

Two-thirds of voters believe the country is headed down the wrong track, while a majority feel the same about the Golden State. Optimism has flipped to pessimism and the key factor is cost of living.

Two-thirds of voters said inflation, gas prices and other expenses were extremely important among the issues facing California. Other issues of extreme concern to voters include:

Drought/wildfires (63%)

Homelessness (54%)

Housing (51%)

Crime/public safety (49%)

The poll — the eighth semi-annual online poll of 1,040 likely voters conducted May 20-23 — paints a picture of despair.

The anxieties abound. Some 86% of voters agree that “earning enough income to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle is becoming almost impossible in my part of California.” Another 58% believe the economy will be worse a year from now. Crime has increased (77%) and homelessness gotten worse (78%)

As far as solutions, voters lean toward common sense. On homelessness, 81% agree with Gov. Newsom’s CARE Court Proposal to provide mandatory services for mentally ill or incapacitated homeless people. On drought, voters support any solution at hand, with particular support for expedited permitting of desalination plants and off-stream storage reservoirs.

In the face of inflation, voters are clear on what they want to do with the budget surplus — two-thirds believe it important to expand the state’s water supply and a clear majority believe much of the surplus should go back to taxpayers.

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