Where Do California’s Tax Dollars Go?

Here at the CBP, we never tire of pointing out that budgets express our values and priorities as a society. Public opinion research, however, suggests that Californians lack basic knowledge about how their tax dollars are spent. In January, the Public Policy Institute of California reported that an astounding 45 percent of California adults thought that prisons and corrections made up the biggest share of state spending. In fact, the largest share of state spending goes toward public schools, which most voters identify as a high priority along with higher education and services for vulnerable children and seniors. Corrections accounts for a little more than 10 percent of the state budget. Our new Policy Basics shows that the vast majority of state spending supports public schools, higher education, health and human services, and other key public services that build a strong economy and protect our quality of life.

—Scott Graves