Californians strongly against high-speed rail, new poll finds
Across the state, 54% of voters oppose the state’s high-speed rail plan and, if given the chance to vote on a statewide ballot measure, 43% of voters say they would definitely vote to end the controversial project, according to the Probolsky Research poll released today.
“California voters have been consistent in their opposition to spending on high speed rail since 2011,” said Adam Probolsky, chairman and CEO of Probolsky Research.
While voters initially embraced the concept of a bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Probolsky says that a poor outreach effort has slowly undermined public support.
“The concept is fantastic,” he said. “The execution, especially the outreach effort that could have garnered public support for the project, has been a fantastic failure.”
Senator Andy Vidak: “No-Brainer to Stop the Train”
It didn’t take long for the state’s leading high-speed rail critics to pounce on the new survey findings.
“It’s not surprising that a majority of Californians are in strong opposition to high-speed rail,” said State Senator Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, the state’s leading critic of the project. “In the Central Valley, where we see first-hand high-speed rail’s devastating effects, it’s a no-brainer to stop the train.”
Governor Jerry Brown’s steadfast support of the controversial high-speed rail project is quickly becoming a central issue in his re-election. GOP candidate Neel Kashkari’s campaign said that the latest poll numbers show that the governor has misplaced priorities.
“This is just more evidence that Governor Brown’s priorities are out of step with the majority of Californians,” said Jessica Hsiang Ng, a spokeswoman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari. “Jerry Brown remains focused on a crazy train that Californians don’t want and can’t afford.”
At an event in Lodi, fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Asm. Tim Donnelly told reporters Wednesday that the state should ask voters to use high-speed rail funds to build dams and other water infrastructure.
Top Priority of Voters: Jobs and the Economy
“Jobs and the economy” remain voters’ top priority– with 30 percent of voters identifying it as the most important issue facing their community. Public safety and the environment were next on the list of voter concerns, each registering 15 percent, according to the Probolsky Research poll.
The survey’s list of voter priorities largely mirrors Kashkari’s campaign message of “priorities.”
“Of all of our priorities, of all of our needs that millions of California families have over the next 20 or 30 years, who can possibly argue that spending almost $68 BILLION on the bullet train makes any sense?” Kaskari asks in his latest “Stop the Crazy Train” campaign video.
Timing of Brown Rail Appeal Questioned
In January, Brown asked the California Supreme Court for an expedited review – and reversal – of two lower court rulings that have halted the state’s high-speed rail system. Just three days prior to that request, Brown’s campaign accepted $27,200, the maximum campaign contribution allowed by law, from Tutor Perini, which has more than a $1 billion in outstanding contracts with the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
Last year, the California High-Speed Rail Authority awarded a billion dollar design-build contract to a joint venture headed by Tutor Perini Corporation. The contract is valued at approximately $985 million, plus an additional $53 million in provisional sums. Tutor Perini’s portion of the contract is approximately $500 million, according to the company’s website.
A controversial choice for the state’s high-speed rail project, Tutor Perini “had the lowest technical and safety rating of all the bidding companies, and the Authority board changed the rules to give Tutor the winning bid,” according to the Hanford Sentinel.
Probolsky Research surveyed 800 registered voters in English and Spanish in late January.