Poll: Voters wishy-washy on water proposal, lukewarm on Brown

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The California Aqueduct carries water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Southern California. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed building tunnels that would do the same.

A new survey finds support for the state's ambitious water plan dries up when the talk turns to money and that only half of voters think Gov. Jerry Brown is doing a good job in office.

The USC/LA Times poll released Monday asked voters about two proposals to change the way California transports water. Voters supported both plans until they found out how much they cost, said Dan Schnur, who teaches politics at USC and directed the poll. 

"The challenge for the governor and the legislature is to convince voters that these reforms are not helpful, but necessary. And only when voters see a real urgency involved are they willing to take what they consider to be a calculated risk to trust state government to spend their money wisely. Otherwise they play it safe and just say no," Schnur said.

Governor Jerry Brown's plan would build tunnels to bring water from Northern California to the Central Valley and Southern California.  It includes some habitat protections, and could cost $25 billion, paid for by consumers, along with state and federal funds. The second plan focuses more on protecting the environment and would require up to $6 billion be raised through bonds.

The same poll indicates about half of voters in California think Governor Jerry Brown is doing a good job. 

It may not sound great — getting approval from half the voters — but Schnur said it's not too bad given voters are pretty skeptical about the overall direction of the state.

"At a time when they still believe that California is heading in the wrong direction, which they believe by fairly substantial numbers, even what appear to be middling job approval numbers for the governor are probably good news for him," Schnur said.

And by those relative standards, state lawmakers can say they are doing well, even though two-thirds of voters don't think so or don't even care. 

"We're showing the legislature with an approval rating of 33 percent, which sounds pretty dismal, but that's the actually the highest we've seen it in years," Schnur said.

USC/LA Times Poll

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