College of Liberal Arts

UT/Texas Tribune Poll Shows Strong Support for ‘Rainy Day’ Funding of Water Projects

Fri, Jun 21, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas — Sixty-eight percent of registered Texas voters support spending $2 billion from the state’s "Rainy Day Fund" on water infrastructure projects across the state, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll.

It is a sign of public support for a water infrastructure measure that voters will find on the ballot in the November elections.

The statewide poll, conducted May 31 to June 9, surveyed 1,200 registered Texas voters and had a margin of error of 2.83 percentage points.

The poll also explored Texas voter opinion on several issues taken up by the 83rd Texas Legislature. In addition to showing support for the water measure forwarded by legislators to voters, the poll also revealed the following results on policies discussed by the Legislature:

• When asked if the state should reduce the number of required tests necessary to graduate from high school from 15 to five, 60 percent approved of fewer tests, with only 31 percent opposed. The Legislature overwhelmingly approved such a reduction during its regular session, and Gov. Rick Perry signed the changes into law.

• Forty-six percent supported "guaranteeing the right of faculty, staff and students to carry concealed weapons on college campuses," and 48 percent were opposed. The Legislature failed to pass any of the proposed "campus carry" bills, and Perry has not added this legislation to the call for the special session currently underway.

• Sixty-two percent supported legislation prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks. Legislation aimed at limiting a woman's legal ability to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks did not pass during the regular session, but Perry added abortion regulation to the special session agenda.

“Texans’ support for using the Rainy Day Fund to prime the pump for water infrastructure funding bodes well for the efforts of a broad coalition of interests supporting this approach,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at The University of Texas at Austin and a co-director of the poll. “It appears the Legislature and the public were largely on the same page on two of the marquee items that defined the session: water and education.”

Daron Shaw, a government professor at The University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll, also saw broad support for many of the legislative proposals that dominated the Legislature’s time during the regular session.  “Most of the major issue proposals considered by the Legislature have considerable support amongst the public,” Shaw said. “Texans are a little less anxious about the economy, and there is some sentiment — even amongst tea party supporters — to commit tax dollars to address issues such as water and education.”

Forty-two percent said the Legislature should have fully restored the cuts to public education it made in 2011 or even added additional money. Seventeen percent said the right amount had been restored, and 19 percent said the cuts should have been left in place or even increased. Lawmakers cut $5.4 billion in public education funding in 2011, part of which — more than $3 billion — was restored this year.

This is the latest in a series of online polls conducted and jointly funded by the Texas Politics Project and The Texas Tribune. Comprehensive poll results, information about methodology and the survey dataset will be available at the Texas Politics Project website later this week. Additional poll results will be released and available at the website throughout the week.

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