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SAN FRANCISCO -- It wasn't the first time Gov. Jerry Brown has addressed the potentially harmful impact of high-speed rail on his November ballot initiative to raise taxes, but it was perhaps his most direct response yet.

"First of all, I don't really believe in the Field Poll," Brown said when asked this afternoon about a poll that showed many voters could lose their appetite for higher taxes if the state approved high-speed rail funds. "And I'll tell you one reason I don't: High-speed rail is more popular than I am right now. So if I believe that, I might pack my bags and head back to the monastery."

The nonpartisan Field Poll found recently that a fifth of likely voters who support Brown's proposal to raise taxes say they would be less likely to support it if the Legislature appropriated money for California's $68 billion high-speed rail project.

The Legislature did just that, and Brown signed legislation today authorizing initial construction.

"A poll here and a poll there," he said. "I got 10 polls in my back pocket that tell me everything I want to know and don't want to know, so don't worry about the Field Poll."

Brown described controversy about the rail project as one between "doers" and "fearful men."

"We are in a culture of immediate gratification -- me, now, easy," he said. "This is about us, long and difficult."


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