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Do Americans Love Local Gov?

388da5aGovies are getting beat up by the press and public opinion. Take this fact, only 42 percent of Americans think the federal government is a good steward of taxpayer dollars, according to a Gallup poll. Part of the problem is government services are very complicated and the federal government does a bad job of getting the word out about what is working.

But it’s a different story for local government. An Atlantic Media/Siemens State of the City poll found, “When it comes to roads, schools, safety, and several other day-to-day services, people across the country report being more or less happy with what they’re getting.”

Kriston Capps, a staff writer at City Lab, took a serious look at the poll and he told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that there are high levels of confidence in the local government and satisfaction with the services that the community receives.

The poll asked respondents about three issues: their confidence in local government, their confidence in the ability of local government to address certain issues compared to the federal level and it asked about the benefits that people receive. “But whether men or women, whether white, black, or Hispanic, in every region and locality, of any age or income group, respondents said that the government services they received were a decent value for the local taxes they paid. A majority of every single group stated so. And for most constituencies, upward of 70 percent of respondents said that government works just fine for them where they live,” writes Capps in City Lab. 

Do demographics tell the story?

The poll also broke the survey results down by demographics. “White respondents reported the most satisfaction out of local government. Everyone feels a lot of satisfaction, but the White respondents had the highest degree of satisfaction in public education, public safety and transportation,” said Capps.”80% of white respondents said that they got an excellent or good value for the local taxes that they pay. Only 19% of this population said that they had a poor or very poor value.”

More government?

The headline of Capp’s post, Americans Love Local Government—They Just Don’t Necessarily Want More of It, points to an interesting disconnect in the poll numbers. “Black and Hispanic respondents reported less satisfaction for the local government, but given a question about hypothetical tax revenue surplus, those populations said that they wanted more services,” said Capps. “When asked if spending on transportation would have a major impact on the quality of life, 49% of black respondents said yes it would. 53% of hispanic respondents said yes it would. Only 27% of white respondents said the same thing.”

A similar question about increased education spending yielded similar results. “On public education, you see a great deal of buy in from black and hispanic  respondents (72% and 70%), think that spending more on public schools would have a major impact on improving quality of life of their communities. 50% of white respondents said the same.”

For the full results you can check out the poll, here.

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