Governor, Legislature beat a retreat on water bond
July 5, 2012
• Taking it off November’s ballot
• ‘This pork filled package will not pass in 2014’
A proposed $11 billion bond to pay for water storage and related projects that’s been kicking around since Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor, has been kicked further down the road.
The state Legislature and the current governor, Jerry Brown, on Thursday agreed to remove the measure from this November’s ballot and put it on the November 2014 ballot.
The action came as the Assembly voted in favor or releasing nearly $3 billion in bond funds for the proposed high-speed rail project. A vote funding the rail project was scheduled for Friday in the state Senate.
Lawmakers think that by delaying a vote on the water bond for two more years – it was first on the 2010 ballot before being kicked to 2012 – that the odds of voters approving it might be better.
Fat chance, predicts the head of Restore the Delta, a conservation group seeking protections for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“Polling showed the water bond could not pass in 2010. It would not pass now in 2012. And this pork filled package will not pass in 2014,” says Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta.
But lawmakers claim the latest delay was a “bi-partisan effort with support from a large coalition of stakeholders including the Association of California Water Agency, Western Growers, California State Council of Laborers, California Alliance for Jobs, Metropolitan Water District, California Conference of Carpenters, the California Latino Water Coalition and the Nature Conservancy.”
“Investing in water infrastructure is vital for our State but in the current economic climate, the likelihood of voters approving this bond in November 2012 is low,” says Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno. “We need to make sure we give it the best chance for success.”
"Our support for moving the bond in no way weakens the resolve of ACWA and our allies to get the job done over the long term,” says Timothy Quinn, executive director of the statewide Association of California Water Agencies. “We believe there is a critical role for general obligation bond funding to help implement the comprehensive package.”