(photo credit: Mugur Marculescu)
Two weeks ago we brought you some of the results of the online survey we conducted on infrastructure, and the results were more than a little noteworthy. Despite a small sample size of about 200 people, we compared our findings to those of similar surveys from the Public Policy Institute of California, and there’s no disputing this: respondents believe California’s infrastructure plays a big part in quality of life and economic vitality here.
Today, we bring you some of the nitty gritty on what part of infrastructure they actually would prioritize in their community. In short, Californians care about their streets and roads, and they believe in the intellectual infrastructure that comes with education.
A full 58 percent of respondents selected elementary schools and community colleges as one of their top-two selections in a question asking what infrastructure investments were of the highest priority, with some respondents tying a subpar education to a slippery slope toward government dependence.
“I feel education is a key to the future,” one respondent said. “When our kids are not properly educated, it affects the economy for years. IF they drop out of school, are not able to get a job, then they will require government assistance as opposed to being a part of the work force and contributing to the economy.”
Potholes are the bane of Californians’ existence, and they tie the health and vibrancy of California’s diverse regional economics to the infrastructure that supports them. Forty-seven percent of the respondents listed streets and roads as their number one or number two priority. Those that filled in the optional follow-up for the question minced no words:
“If you don’t know [the answer] you haven’t been driving on our roads and streets,” one respondent says. “There is no public transportation to speak of.”
“Public transportation is grossly under-funded and local jurisdictions are diverting funds away from public transit needs,” says another. “And the north state has been seriously neglected in state highway development. We still have a majority of highways that are dangerously sub-standard.”
“Our roads are crumbling, and they’re used by everyone,” one person wrote. “Deferring maintenance will only increase future repair costs.”
These deferred costs will only help to balloon a ten-year infrastructure deficit that approaches $800 billion, something that California cannot allow to happen. As the person that mentioned the crumbling highways up north said, our infrastructure deficit isn’t a cut-and-dried catch-all of deficiency. Instead, it’s highly regionalized – as highly regionalized as California’s economy is. Because of this, we need to prioritize regional approaches to solving infrastructure problems, something the California Economic Summit has taken on and promoted since before the infrastructure issue was in vogue.