Field Poll

By David Siders
dsiders@sacbee.com
02/24/2015 12:00 AM

Gov. Jerry Brown remains popular, according to a new poll

But not the big projects he supports, which appear to weigh him down.

Although 56 percent of California voters approve of the job Brown is doing, according to a Field Poll released Tuesday, a majority fault him for favoring “too many big government projects that the state cannot afford right now.”

The poll comes as Brown, starting his fourth and final term, pursues two controversial infrastructure projects: construction of a $68 billion high-speed rail system and a pair of massive tunnels to divert water around the Delta to the south.

“Perhaps the more expansive aspects of what he’s trying to do, there’s some reluctance,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.

The survey did not identify what big government projects voters might resist, but rail and water are the legacy-making initiatives on Brown’s agenda.

DiCamillo said “that’s probably what’s on voters’ minds.”

Brown acknowledged controversy surrounding major infrastructure programs when, at a ceremonial groundbreaking for the high-speed rail project in January, he said, “Everything big runs into opposition.”

The Democratic governor called the project’s critics “weak of spirit.”

The rail project is proposed to connect the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas through the Central Valley by 2028, but public support has fallen off since Californians authorized rail bonds in a statewide vote in 2008.

Meanwhile, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a water project estimated to cost about $25 billion, has generated opposition in the Delta. Brown promoted versions of both the rail and water plans when he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, and he has made them priorities since returning to office in 2011.

Brown’s public approval rating has remained above 50 percent statewide for two years, reaching a high of 59 percent in April 2014. Buoyed by an improving economy and a dearth of Republican opposition, Brown hardly campaigned as he breezed to re-election last year.

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