Originally posted at the Public Policy Institute of CA.
By Lunna Lopes.
In PPIC’s most recent statewide survey, 61% of Californians say that spending more money on the maintenance of roads, highways, and bridges is very important for California’s future quality of life and economic vitality. At the same time, a majority of Californians (54%) oppose the governor’s proposal to do so. His transportation funding plan would provide $43 billion of additional spending for state and local transportation projects, with money coming from a new $65 vehicle fee and an increase in gasoline and diesel taxes. Republicans are overwhelmingly opposed to the governor’s proposal and independents are divided. Among Democrats, a slight majority (53%) favor the plan while 42% oppose it.
Californians’ reluctance to support the governor’s plan is understandable in light of another survey finding: many are not satisfied with the way transportation funds are being spent now. When asked what is most needed to improve the quality of California’s roads and surface transportation, 51% of adults choose the wiser use of existing funds. This response contrasts with what Californians said when asked a similar question about higher education funding in December. Just a little over a third (36%) said that the wiser use of existing funds alone would significantly improve the quality of public higher education.
Among Californians who oppose the governor’s proposal, 64% say that the wiser use of existing funds is the best way to significantly improve the quality of the state’s roads. Only 30% say that both wiser use of existing funds and more state funding is needed.
Across parties, 80% of Republicans and 69% of independents who oppose the governor’s plan think that the wiser use of existing funds is the best approach. Notably, Democrats who oppose the governor’s plan are far more likely than those who support it to say that the wiser use of funds alone is a way to improve California’s roads, highways, and bridges (55% to 31%). If the governor hopes to win the support of some of those 42% of Democrats who oppose his plan, he will likely have to overcome the perception that transportation funds are not being put to good use now.