Californians worry about water, favor legalizing pot and like Jerry Brown: poll

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 25, 2015 9:01 PM

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - Californians support Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, worry about water and increasingly favor legalizing marijuana, a new poll shows.

About 55 percent of adults approve of the job Brown is doing, down from an all-time high of 61 percent in January, but still pretty good marks, according to the latest poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Likely voters in the most populous U.S. state also tend to agree with Brown's position that the University of California should get more funding if it holds tuition flat, with 52 percent in favor. About 18 percent favor providing additional funding even if the university raises tuition, and 27 percent oppose all funding increases.

About half of adults in the state, 51 percent, support temporarily extending some high-earner and sales tax increases backed by the governor in 2012 that helped to balance the budget. Forty percent oppose.

Californians are more divided on another project backed by Brown, an ambitious and expensive plan to connect both ends of the large state with a high-speed rail system. For its latest survey, 47 percent of adults in the state favor the $68 billion project, and 48 percent oppose it.

Brown, a former attorney general, has cautioned against moving quickly to legalize marijuana, saying the state should learn from mistakes made as Washington and Colorado, where cannabis is now legal.

But as marijuana advocates prepare to place the question before voters after a failed effort in 2010, support for legalization is at an all-time high in the state.

About 53 of adults interviewed for the poll said they favor legalizing marijuana, compared to 45 percent who said the drug should remain illegal. That's the highest support for legalization since the PPIC began asking the question in 2010.

As the state enters its fourth year of drought, 66 percent of residents say the state's water supply is a big problem. That's a slight drop from the record high of 68 percent who said it was a big problem when polled by the PPIC last October.

The PPIC interviewed 1706 California adults for its poll, which was conducted by telephone from March 8-17. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent for all adults and +/- 4.7 percent for likely voters.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Michael Perry)