California aqueduct. (Photo Credit: Marianne Muegenburg Cothern/Flickr)
It’s less than two weeks from the election and neither the drought nor support for the state water bond, or Proposition 1 on the ballot, seem to be waning much. Interestingly, a measure reforming the state’s Rainy Day Fund has also seen increased support among likely voters since September, making the need both literal and figurative for the Golden State.
In PPIC’s monthly poll of Californians released this week, 56 percent of likely voters said they would vote yes on the Proposition 1 water bond, while 32 percent would vote no. Most people immersed in the sometimes-heated water issue in California would agree that the drought and the huge need for smart, long-term water funding aren’t going away very soon.
Not surprisingly, 66 percent of Central Valley likely voters, living in the biggest agricultural region in the U.S., said the outcome of the water bond vote was “Very Important.” The drought even prompted an annual corn maze in the region to be downsized and become drought-themed.
Also not surprisingly, those surveyed (all adults) once again placed the drought/water issue in a close second (26 percent) to “jobs and the economy” (29 percent) as the top issues the state faces.
While the drought is reminding people of the importance of water to the economy, it also reinforces the idea that states and regions making long-term investments in infrastructure will win the 21st century while others might just circle the drain.
Gov. Brown, seeking his fourth term, said earlier this week at a Stanford water summit that California water is the work of a four-term governor in a very long game.
“The first couple of terms to set the table and make the proposals, and then the last two terms 30 years later to finally carry the ball across the finish line,” said Brown talking about new groundwater management legislation.
While we may not see another governor returning after a 30-year hiatus to finish up some business, the state has the Prop 1 water bond on the table, if approved, bringing $7.5 billion to projects until 2022.
The Summit’s analysis from right after the bond deal was struck shows the bond is relatively low on pork, unlike past bonds and contains little connection to the controversial Delta tunnel project. The good news is the likely voters from the PPIC poll are still somewhere on the same page, as 68 percent of them said regional water supply is a big problem.
Proposition 2, the result of a rare bipartisan vote of support throughout the State Legislature, would bolster the state’s fiscal reserves by increasing the amount of revenue spikes captured and preventing easy tapping into the reserves unless genuine crisis exists.
The same PPIC poll indicated “support for Proposition 2 has increased 6 points since September (43 percent yes, 33 percent no, 24 percent undecided).” Democrats, Republicans and Independents are all split 50/50 on the measure and a third of likely voters considers its outcome important, according to the PPIC poll.
Perhaps most important, however, is the majority support among likely voters (55 percent) that Proposition 2 currently garners. This is a 6 point increase since September but overall, the mere notion of a budget crises happening has dwindling significantly since local and natinoal press have begun to describe California as the “comeback state” and praising Gov. Jerry Brown’s steady hand in guiding the recovery.
The amount of support surrounding Proposition 2 among prominent newspapers in the state is overwhelming, with the measure getting a “yes” endorsement from 11 of 12 tracked by Scott Lay’s Nooner email.