It may be near 100 degrees in Sacramento, but the rain seems to be falling on the water bond parade, as lawmakers attempt to delay the measure until the 2012 ballot.
Both Gov. Schwarzenegger and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg have urged the Legislature to delay the $11 billion general-obligation bond package, originally slated for the 2010 ballot. It’s a feat that would take a two-thirds vote of both legislative houses.
Bond supporters are concerned that voters, wearied by a bad economy and the state’s chronic budget crisis, might reject the bond this November. The bond was part of a comprehensive water package approved by the Governor in November 2009, and includes funding for drought relief, water supply projects, Delta sustainability, groundwater, and water storage and conservation projects.
Voter support is not the only hurdle, however. Several environmental groups have announced their opposition to the bond, calling it bad public policy and a clear pathway to a peripheral canal. The issue has split the environmental community, pitting groups such as the Sierra Club against others like the Nature Conservancy. Supporters continue to call the bond package a critical investment that would fund needed improvements to California’s aging water infrastructure and help to restore the Delta ecosystem.
Postponing the water bond might be easier said than done. With a two-thirds vote requirement of both the Senate and the Assembly, the bond issue might get caught up in the budget wrangling process that is currently holding Sacramento hostage.
The CSAC Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Committee was scheduled to take up the water bond discussion at its Sept. 8 meeting. If lawmakers have their way, the Committee just might have to wait until 2012.
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