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PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government (May 2022)

May 26, 2022

Every California voter has received a June 7 primary ballot in the mail and they have been weighing their election choices in the midst of disturbing news and unsettling circumstances. Inflation continues to take a daily toll on consumers and dampens their economic outlook. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has turned into a deadly and protracted military conflict. The latest omicron variant is resulting in yet another surge in COVID cases. And Californians are being asked to conserve water in response to the drought while bracing themselves for wildfire season. The one bright spot is Governor Newsom's May revision, which includes a record-setting surplus of revenues available for the state budget.This report highlights key findings of a statewide survey on state and national issues that was conducted from May 12 to 22 by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Health Care Access among California’s Farmworkers

April 25, 2022

Recent federal and state policies may have improved access to health insurance for farmworkers, who are important contributors to California's economy and an essential link in the food supply chain. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included an expansion of Medi-Cal to most low-income adults, and a mandate requiring companies with at least 50 workers to offer employer health insurance. California also expanded Medi-Cal to young undocumented immigrants, and will soon extend it to older individuals. This report investigates whether these policies coincided with better insurance coverage or reduced barriers to health care for immigrant farmworkers.Farmworkers are aging and more likely to settle in the US with family; thus, their health care needs—and those of their families and children—will likely grow. Cost or lack of insurance are the most salient barriers to health care for farmworkers; few farmworkers note barriers related to immigration status, although being undocumented is a strong predictor of lacking health insurance. Many documented farmworkers have enrolled in Medi-Cal following the ACA expansion, which has increased coverage rates and lowered cost and insurance barriers to health care. Undocumented farmworkers have not fared as well in these areas. Employer health insurance coverage for farmworkers did not change detectably with the rollout of the ACA employer mandate, regardless of a farmworker's documentation status or whether the worker was a direct hire versus a contractor. These findings take on special importance during the coronavirus pandemic. Farmworkers have continued to work during the public health emergency. Yet with California's high cost of housing, many farmworkers live in crowded conditions, making it difficult to remain socially distant from other household members. Although emergency Medi-Cal covers COVID-19 treatment regardless of immigration status, long COVID and resulting disability may threaten farmworkers' health and livelihoods.

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government (March 2022)

March 24, 2022

The world order was upended when the Russian military invaded Ukraine, an action that has caused widespread death and destruction. In response, the international community imposed harsh economic sanctions on the Russian government. Californians felt the shock waves through rising prices at the gasoline pump that added further fuel to inflation fears. In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases have plummeted and the omicron surge has given way to an easing of mask and vaccination restrictions. Meanwhile, statewide and legislative candidates for the California June primary made their plans known by the March 11 deadline. This report presents the key findings of a statewide survey on state and national issues conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California from March 6 to 17, 2022.

Equity in Voter Turnout after Pandemic Election Policy Changes

March 2, 2022

To make voting safer during the pandemic, California implemented a number of reforms for the 2020 general election, including mailing every voter a ballot and consolidating in-person voting options in exchange for more early voting alternatives. To inform election administration for an eventual post-pandemic world, we examine how these changes affected the representativeness of the electorate, especially gaps in voter turnout between young people and seniors and between non-Hispanic white people and people of color.

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government (February 2022)

February 2, 2022

This year began with the omicron surge, which is causing disruption, uncertainty, and stress for many Californians. Although encouraging signs of an economic recovery are present, rising prices are a worrisome trend for consumers. Governor Newsom and the state legislature are working with a large surplus of revenues for state spending, while President Biden and the US Congress are unable to pass major legislation as partisan divisions loom large following the one-year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection.These are the key findings of a statewide survey on state and national issues conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California from January 16 to 25, 2022:COVID-19, homelessness, and jobs, the economy, and inflation top the list when we asked Californians to name the most important issues for the governor and legislature to work on in 2022.Half of Californians think the state is headed in the right directionTwo in three say the worst is behind us in the coronavirus outbreakAbout half of Californians say that the state is in a recessionA majority of Californians approve of President Biden's performance in office—similar to approval ratings for Governor NewsomAbout four in ten say that the nation is headed in the right directionFifty-three percent are at least somewhat satisfied with the way that US democracy is working

Health Coverage and Care for Undocumented Immigrants: An Update

June 23, 2021

California policymakers continue to weigh strategies for making health insurance universal and health care accessible to all—including for undocumented immigrant residents. The state expanded Medi-Cal to undocumented children and young adults using mostly state funds, and budget negotiations are underway to expand coverage to older undocumented adults. While coverage for all undocumented immigrants has been on the legislative agenda for several years, COVID-19 has underscored how gaps in health insurance coverage for immigrants, fear and avoidance of health care systems, and lack of access to vaccines can have consequences for entire communities.This report updates PPIC's past work on health care and insurance coverage for undocumented immigrants, from presenting updated uninsured rates among immigrant groups to unpacking systematic differences in health care access by documentation status. We also examine aspects of how children in mixed-status families—where at least one member is undocumented—engage with the health care system. 

Vote-by-Mail and Voter Turnout in the Pandemic Election

April 14, 2021

States across the country took extraordinary steps to increase voting by mail for the 2020 election in an effort to minimize in-person contact and virus transmission risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest such policy change involved mailing every voter a ballot by default. California took additional steps toward facilitating vote-by-mail—such as a statewide ballot tracking system and a later deadline for receiving ballots that had been postmarked by election day—and many counties in the state also adapted their options to accommodate in-person voting.California is now debating making universally mailed ballots a permanent feature of the state's elections moving forward, through AB 37. The state has already committed (through SB 29) to extending the approach through 2021, including for any gubernatorial recall election that may occur. At the same time, other US states plan to return to a version of their pre-pandemic approaches or may introduce policies to constrain voting by mail.In this report, we analyze a wide range of data to identify how recent policy decisions affected voter turnout.

Immigrants in California

March 24, 2021

A fact sheet that provides a brief overview of the state of immigrants in and immigration to California as of March, 2021, examining factors such as immigration status, education, language skills, and the overall rate of immigration to the state. 

Student Debt and the Value of a College Degree

May 31, 2013

Skyrocketing tuition and fees, increasing student debt, and a weak economy have led many to wonder whether the benets of going to college are worth the costs. More students than ever are taking on student loans -- a troubling trend that suggests that college is becoming less accessible to many students, even as our economy requires greater numbers of highly educated workers. In this report, the authors review the status of undergraduate student debt in California and consider it in light of the economic benets of attaining a college degree. This report finds that student debt has increased notably in recent years. In 2010, almost half of California freshmen took out a student loan -- ten years earlier, only one-third did so. Moreover, the size of those loans has increased. The average loan amount for freshmen in California increased 36 percent (adjusted for inflation) between 2005 and 2010, reaching almost $8,000 for that first year alone. Students at private colleges are much more likely than students at the state's public colleges to take out loans, and the amounts of those loans are substantially higher at private institutions. Of particular concern are students at private for-profit colleges. Almost all students attending those institutions take out loans, and the loan amounts are higher than at any other type of institution. Despite the increase in debt, college is a good investment for the vast majority of students. Labor market outcomes, including employment and wages, remain far better for college graduates than for less educated workers, and all but the lowest-paid college graduates earn sufficient wages to pay off average debts. However, certain students do not fare so well. Those who do not finish college have far lower earning potential than those who do. And a small share of students take out massive loans and have trouble paying them back. Default rates are particularly high for students who attend private for-profit colleges. By keeping tuition low in the past (and even now at community colleges) and, more recently, by expanding grant aid to those attending public institutions, California policymakers and higher education officials have ensured that student debt is lower in California than in the rest of the United States. Relatively high graduation rates coupled with strong labor market outcomes have kept default rates on student loans very low for attendees of the University of California and the California State University, and at almost all private nonprofit colleges. Efforts by policymakers to limit state aid to institutions with poor student outcomes, including high student loan default rates, should continue. Almost all of the poorly performing schools are private for-profit institutions.In an era with seemingly ever-increasing college tuition, the state should find additional ways to make college affordable for greater numbers of Californians. Improving pathways from community colleges, with their very low tuition, to four-year colleges should be a high priority. The new associate degree for transfer is a step in the right direction. Finding ways to help families save for college should be another state priority. One option would be to create a college savings program that guarantees full tuition at the state's public universities. Numerous states have adopted such programs, and hundreds of thousands of families are participating in them. Finally, to keep costs down, state policymakers and higher education officials need to ensure adequate funding of higher education institutions, as well as eciency in the delivery of higher education. Online offerings are one -- as yet unproven -- possibility for efficiency gains. Ultimately, the significance of a college education is larger than the gains enjoyed by any one person. California's future prosperity depends on public policies that promote college enrollment and completion for increasing numbers of Californians.

California's Water Market, By the Numbers: Update 2012

November 1, 2012

This report provides an overview of the policy context for water marketing and the related practice ofgroundwater banking and summarizes recent trends in both areas. The water market enables the temporary,long-term, or permanent transfer of the rights to use water in exchange for compensation. The ability totransfer these rights adds flexibility to the state's water supply -- helping to address temporary droughtconditions and to accommodate longer-term changes in the pattern of demand. Groundwater bankinginvolves the deliberate storage of surface water in aquifers during relatively wet years, for use in dry years.Both tools are part of a modern water management portfolio that will enable California to manage its waterresources sustainably, benefitting both the economy and the environment. Given the physical, financial, andenvironmental limits on expanding overall water supplies in California and the prospect of supplyreductions caused by a warming climate, both tools are likely to become increasingly important.Although state and federal policies have supported the development of water marketing and groundwaterbanking, no official publications track their evolution in California. Since the early 2000s, PPIC has trackedthese trends in an effort to fill this information gap. This report provides an update of the 2002 PPIC reportCalifornia's Water Market, By the Numbers, with an expanded analysis of statewide water market trends from1982-2011 and new information on groundwater banking in Kern County and Southern California.

Passing the California High School Exit Exam: Have Recent Policies Improved Student Performance?

June 1, 2012

This report evaluates the effectiveness of three support services in helping struggling students pass the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). The report highlights the need to help students before they first take the exam in grade 10 and introduces the CAHSEE Early Warning Model, a forecasting tool to identify at-risk students in earlier grades.

Funding Formulas for California Schools IV: An Analysis of Governor Brown's Weighted Pupil Funding Formula, May Budget Revision

May 20, 2012

Compares how the weighted pupil funding formula proposed in the 2012-13 budget and a revised proposal would affect allocation of additional revenue among school districts, with a focus on districts with high percentages of disadvantaged students.