by Brian Leubitz
Everybody likes getting stuff. Whether it is a free smoothie or a shiny new high speed train. However, most of those everybodies are not so into paying for it. At least, that’s what we hear from the latest PPIC numbers):
Voters passed a $10 billion bond in 2008 for the planning and construction of high-speed rail. Today, when read a description of the project and its $68 billion cost estimate, 43 percent of likely voters favor it and 54 percent are opposed. Last March, when the estimated cost was $100 billion, responses were similar (43% favor, 53% oppose). When those who are opposed are asked how they would feel if the cost were lower, overall support rises to 55 percent. Most (59%) say high-speed rail is important to the state’s quality of life and economic vitality (32% very important, 27% somewhat important).
“Majorities of likely voters would favor the water bond and high-speed rail if the price tags on these big-ticket items were reduced,” says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “Californians’ continuing concerns about the economy and the state and federal budgets make planning for the future a difficult process.” (PPIC)
The water bond numbers are pretty similar, with a 42/51 split. These numbers aren’t really surprising. It’s like asking a kid if they’d like some gum for a dollar, and then asking how about a quarter. Sure, they’d prefer it at a quarter, even more than the pricey gum. But, stuff costs money, and ultimately, we can’t go over and over these decisions. The HSR bond passed, and now we have to look at how we can build an efficient system.
There were a bunch of other numbers thrown in with this extensive poll. Brown is at 49%, the Legislature at 34% (a big jump since we got rid of the 2/3 budget), and only the alcohol surtax has a majority among revenue ideas. But, dropping down the poll a bit, I found the numbers on reforming the initiative system very intriguing.
A majority of likely voters (62%) are satisfied with the way the initiative process is working, but most of them (55%) are only somewhat satisfied. Three-fourths (74%) say the process needs changes (36% major changes, 38% minor changes). Only 19 percent say it is fine the way it is. Asked about three changes that have been suggested, overwhelming majorities support each: 84 percent favor increasing public disclosure of funding sources for signature gathering and initiative campaigns, 78 percent favor having a period of time in which the initiative sponsor could meet with the legislature to see if there is a compromise solution before putting a measure on the ballot. And 77 percent favor having a system for reviewing and revising proposed initiatives to try to avoid legal issues and drafting errors. Each of these three ideas has strong support across party lines.
I was actually a bit surprised at the high number on satisfaction, but that seems to run counter to the desire for change. The changes tested are all relatively minor, but perhaps with a couple of them, the process could become a little less of a free for all for the big money interests.
Check the full poll for more information at the PPIC’s website.