As I’ve explained here previously, the California electorate is in reality very much like the worst boyfriend or girlfriend you’ve ever had.

He gets easily angry or frustrated about everything. But he can’t tell you what he wants you to do to make him happy.

That’s the sort of thing you’re not supposed to say if you’re in politics or the media. The voters and the audience are always right, and California elites genuflect more than most toward public opinion.

But the truth of the observation has been demonstrated by new polling on one major California infrastructure plan, related to water. As the press release of the USC Dornsife/LA Times poll explained:

This mirrors similar polling on the state’s infrastructure deficit. Californians are frustrated and upset about the state’s crumbling roads and bridges and other items. But they don’t want to pay what it would cost to fix them.

It’s the worst boyfriend problem.

This public opinion reality demonstrates why the dominant austerity-budget narrative in California politics – that the state needs to get more disciplined about spending and should value balancing the budget over investments in schools and infrastructure – is such a disservice. By telling the public over and over that there is too much spending, politicians have made it harder and harder to make the case for reversing the public disinvestment of the last generation and investing more.

Stop talking about austerity. And start talking about disinvestment – and all its considerable costs, to the state, to California families and even to taxpayers. (The longer you wait to fix a road or bridge or school, the more it ends up costing).