"Big Government" in California Actually Quite Small

State near bottom in ratio of public employees to population

By Jackson West
|  Thursday, Mar 18, 2010  |  Updated 5:09 PM PDT
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Delta's Graveyard of Ships

AP

After years of budget cuts from Arnold Schwarzenegger, California now has one of the smallest "big governments" around.

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In an election year, candidates (especially on the right) are vowing to cut and slash the size of California's public payroll.

But does the state really have a "big government?"

Not according to the United State Census Bureau, which released data on the ratio of public employees to population.

California? As of 2008, it had only 103 people on the state's payroll per 10,000 residents, the fifth lowest, where it ranks alongside liberal bastions Nevada, Arizona and Texas.

Even if you include local public employees in cities and counties, the state still ranks well below the national average.

And the number is getting even smaller, as the state lost 70,000 public employees between 2008 and 2009 while adding 600,000 residents.

Most of the public employees are in education, mainly teachers and administrators in primary and secondary public schools.

Jackson West figures this means he has little hope of getting a sweet government job with a living wage and benefits.

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