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    Poll Shows Taxpayer Debt Ballot Measure For Port Infrastructure With Thin Lead And Many Undecided; Education Bond Trailing

    (Sept. 28, 2006) -- The most recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of CA shows a November ballot measure to incur taxpayer debt (Prop 1-B) for transportation projects that include port-desired "goods movement" capacity expansion (with half as much money allocated to mitigating its impacts) has roughly 51% support with 13% undecided.

    The latest pre-election poll by the non-profit public policy think tank indicates [consistent with its first poll in August] that the measure is "far from being home free, because undecided voters could still tip the scales," PPIC said in a release.

    Prop 1-B, part of a package of taxpayer bond debt measures put on the ballot by the state lawmakers without collecting petition signatures, maintains a slim lead but with the second weakest support level among four Sacramento-devised November bond debt proposals.

    A ballot measure to use bond debt to fund affordable housing (Prop 1C) has the most comfortable lead (57% yes, 30% no, 13% undecided). A water facilities bond (Prop 1E) is a close second (55% yes, 30% no, 15% undecided). The transportation bond (Prop 1-B), which proposes several billion dollars in taxpayer debt to fund port-desired infrastructure expansion, is barely leading (51% yes, 36% no, 13% undecided) while an education facilities bond (Prop 1-D) is trailing (49% yes, 40% no, 11% undecided).

    Prop 1-B is supported by CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who on Sept. 22 vetoed legislation (SB 927) that would have levied a fee on cargo containers at the Ports of LB and L.A. to pay for clean air projects, rail projects and security. The November ballot measure is also backed by state lawmakers (mainly Democrats) whose Assembly leaders in August blocked key legislation (SB 764) that would have given southern California residents a legal guarantee that more port growth wouldn't worsen port-related air pollution ("no net increase").

    In July, the author of the "no net increase" and container fee legislation, State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV), testified that both bills were necessary to make meaningful a "Clean Air Action Plan" proffered by the Ports of LB and L.A. By September, with his "no net increase" bill blocked by Assembly leaders in his own party, Sen. Lowenthal focused instead on his container fee measure. On September 20, Sen. Lowenthal, LB Mayor Bob Foster, LB Councilwoman/AQMD Boardmember Tonia Reyes Uranga and multiple clean-air advocacy and neighborhood groups, held a media event urging the Governor to sign the container fee measure. At the event, Sen. Lowenthal said he couldn't imagine the Governor vetoing the measure...which the Governor did less than 48 hours later.

    Prior to the veto, Sen. Lowenthal and Mayor Foster told that they'd continue supporting the transportation bond ballot measure even if the Governor killed the container fee measure. The LB City Council is currently on record supporting the transportation bond...but that was before the Assembly blocked the "no net increase" bill and the Governor vetoed the container fee measure...both of which the City of Long Beach had also supported via unanimous City Council votes.

    The Port of Long Beach remained publicly neutral on the "no net increase" and container fee bills...but both measures were opposed by the "CA Ass'n of Port Authorities" in which the Ports of LB and L.A. are both dues-paying members.

    The PPIC poll showed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with a widening statewide lead over Democrat challenger Phil 17 points ahead (48% to 31%) -- four points higher than last month. "Only 15 percent of likely voters remain undecided. Angelides has majority support among Democrats (57%), but it is not overwhelming. And although he leads Schwarzenegger among Latino likely voters (42% to 30%), that support falls short of a majority," PPIC said in a release.

    The Governorís "overall approval ratings have also risen. Today, 53 percent of likely voters approve of his job performance, a sharp contrast to his 33 percent approval ratings in September 2005. The increase may reflect Californiansí generally increasing optimism about where the state is headed: Although, they are evenly split over whether California is going in the right or wrong direction (45% each), those numbers represent a major upturn from one year ago when 60 percent of residents thought the state was going in the wrong direction and only 31 percent believed it was going in the right direction," PPIC said in a release.

    PPIC survey director Mark Baldassare concluded that the upcoming televised debate between Gov. Schwarzenegger and challenger Angelides could be pivotal...with over half of likely voters (54%) indicating the candidates for Governor aren't paying enough attention to issues and policies that are most important to them.

    "Voters are so thirsty for a serious discussion of relevant issues that the debate could give Angelides a chance to get a stronger footing in the race -- or for Schwarzenegger to slam the door shut," said survey director Baldassare in a release.

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