Three in four Californians have cut back on the time they spend volunteering or doing other civic activities.

The new report by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) and California Forward says that Californians are looking out for themselves and cutting back on civic engagement during these hard economic times.

The 2009 California Civic Health Index report not only showed dramatic cutbacks in civic engagement, but also declines in trust in public institutions, especially state government, according to a Tuesday press release from the two groups.

The report also concluded that Californians regard their state government with greater suspicion than most Americans, and just 22 percent felt a great deal of confidence in their state government.

“This Civic Health Index is yet another wake-up call for Sacramento. It’s time to make restoring the confidence of Californians a top priority, starting with practical, common-sense reform,” said Robert M. Hertzberg, Co-Chair of California Forward, according to the release.

As confidence in government shrinks, so do individual’s trust in their own community. Just under 40 percent of respondents said they have a moderate or strong personal connection to the people on their block.

“It’s this citizenship and patriotism in California that makes it unique, and it says a lot about the civic health in the Golden State,” said NCoC Executive Director David B. Smith, according to the release. “The purpose of the index is to promote public deliberation about the nation’s (and California’s) civic health and to examine new ways of improving it.”

California Forward is a non-profit organization looking to transform the way California is run. The organization’s vision is to unite the state’s government by creating a stronger link with regional and local governments.

“The depth of the economic downturn, and the unprecedented depth and breadth of cuts to state and local services, has raised the stakes for everyone involved,” said Thomas V. McKernan, Co-Chair of California Forward in the release.  “This civic index report mirrors what we’ve seen across the state; namely, that Californians love this state and want it to lead again.”

To view the California 2009 Civic Health Index: “Hunkering Down:” Volunteering and Civic Engagement During Turbulent Economic Times, click here.

James Spencer can be reached at