Most Wisconsinites don't trust state government, but do have hope it'll get better. Larry Hansen is Vice President of the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation — which commissioned an in-depth, 5-state survey. He says it discovered that corruption and the influence of money in politics is now high on the radar screen and right on par with what Wisconsinites are thinking about every day, like good schools, jobs, gas prices, healthcare and how many taxes we have to pay. “You cannot pick up the newspapers in Ohio or Wisconsin or Illinois these days without being reminded daily of allegations of violations of the public trust and I do think the public is getting restless.”
The new poll shows a mere 36% of the citizens believe the government will do “what is right,” while 62% say “never” or only “some of the time.” Hansen says survey takers believe that getting money out of politics will diminish corruption and make government work better for what really matters to them. Hansen says they've got six major concerns: State campaign finance laws don't stave off out-of-control campaign spending, too many high profile political scandals, redistricting has squeezed out the competition, voter registration is unnecessarily difficult, and the courts and judges are being bought or influenced. “The rules governing our politics have been badly bent out of shape, and until they are fixed, state governments in this region will continue to be handicapped in solving the problems of greatest concern to citizens: jobs, healthcare, education, taxes, environmental protection and crime.”
The survey shows 74% of Midwesterners say honesty is the most important value they want in their government. They also want an accountable and responsive government.
The landmark new survey was commissioned by the Joyce Foundation. It was conducted by Belden Russonello & Stewart in five Midwestern states, most of which are battleground states in presidential elections, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Minnesota.