Jerry Brown Continues His Strong Support of HSR – So Do Californians
Governor Jerry Brown met with reporters and editorial writers at the San Francisco Chronicle today and continued to back the high speed rail project:
Brown was most passionate in his defense of a high-speed rail plan connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, a 520-mile project expected to eventually cost $68 billion. The projected outlay has drawn scathing criticism from Republican gubernatorial candidates Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and former Treasury official Neel Kashkari, who has dubbed it the “Crazy Train.”
Calling the bullet train a crucial test of “our capacity as a state,” Brown asked: “Can we be bold – or are we all just going to shrink back into our Lilliputian faintness of heart?
“I get very concerned in America (that) we’re losing the capacity to make decisions, to be unified as a nation and have a vision, and move forward to make it happen,” he said. “I’m going to build great things, I’m going to do big things, and I’m not going to be intimidated by these fears of things that are part of life.”
‘We can build it’
Brown also dismissed concerns about the cost, difficulty and scope of the project, saying that this is the state that helped construct the transcontinental railroad and such huge infrastructure projects as BART.
“We can build it. We can link the north to the south. We can reshape the land use in the Central Valley, where land prices are cheaper,” he said. “We can do it in an elegant way.
“It’s cheaper than more highways … and it’s better for greenhouse gases. We can do it with renewable energy … and it will be a model for the country.
All of this is correct, and those truths have never changed. The media does not find those facts terribly interesting, since acting to stop climate change or invest in the future are not part of their journalistic model, whereas breathless reporting of supposedly wasteful government spending is.
But Carla Marinucci, a reporter I like and respect, gets something very wrong in her article, which opens with this:
Preparing for looming budget battles with the Democratic-controlled Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown warned Friday that lawmakers must balance “desire and need” for expensive social programs – even as he defiantly doubled down on support for the increasingly unpopular high-speed rail system, saying it remains emblematic of his passion to “build great things” in his final term as governor.
But that’s not true. Public support for high speed rail is increasing. That’s what PPIC found in their March 2014 poll. In a comment to a post on this site, John Burrows explained those numbers are an increase over 2013:
In 2013— 48% of all voters favored the project—50% opposed——In 2014—53% of voters in favor—42% opposed (an increase in support of 5 percentage points among all voters)
In 2013—43% of likely voters favored the project—54% opposed——In 2014—45% of likely voters in favor—50% opposed (an increase in support of 2 percentage points, a decrease in opposition of 4 percentage points)
What this tells me is that support for high speed rail in California has increased over the past year, particularly among those less likely to vote. As the economy in California continues to recover, it seems likely that voter support for high speed rail will increase further.
Californians like high speed rail. They want high speed rail. Their governor knows this. And it’s one reason why those Californians are going to reelect their HSR-loving governor by a huge margin this fall over whichever clown the Republicans put up against him.
If only the media would acknowledge that this strong public support exists. I don’t mind them reporting the controversies. I don’t mind them quoting critics. But they do need to be clear on the facts – HSR is increasingly popular in California.