Hoover Institution

By Jessica Calefati
Updated: 01/15/2016 – 06:54:32 AM PST

SACRAMENTO — When Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his annual State of the State address next week, he’s expected to cheer California’s good financial fortune, continue to hail the bullet train and stress the need to tackle climate change before it’s too late.

But a new, wide-ranging poll conducted by Stanford’s Hoover Institution in conjunction with the university’s Bill Lane Center for the American West shows Californians have some different ideas about the state’s priorities.

While respondents gave the governor high marks for his handling of the state budget — which was drowning in red ink when he took office in early 2011 — the survey shows that slightly more than half of residents are ready to bag the $68 billion rail line and that tackling the state’s water woes, not global warming, should be California’s top priority.

“Californians understand the drought because their bills are up, their lawns are brown and their water use has been restricted,” said Bill Whalen, a veteran GOP strategist who is now a research fellow at the conservative public policy think tank. “The impacts of climate change aren’t up-close-and-personal, at least not yet.”

Even as El Niño rains begin to soak the state, more than three-quarters of California residents surveyed from Nov. 30 to Dec. 13 said dealing with the state’s water problems should be a top priority.

That’s not to say Brown disagrees. Last year, his administration enacted sweeping new conservation rules aimed at cutting urban water use by a quarter. And Brown will likely use his speech to remind Californians to keep conserving water despite the wet weather.

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