Viewpoint: California water issues won’t wait for bond vote

Now that California lawmakers have pulled an $11 billion water bond measure off the November ballot, California is facing new questions about how to fix our long-standing water problems, including the long-term health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the future reliability of our water supply.

A number of commentators have praised or pilloried the delay of the bond, but one thing we can all agree on is that California’s water challenges have not gone away. The recent state Water Resources Control Board report that finds we must halve our water withdrawals from the rivers and streams that sustain the Delta is simply one more indication that we have over-tapped California’s precious water resources and that we must find innovative ways to do more with less.

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Mercury News editorial: Delay in state water bond vote presents opportunity

The recent decision to delay Proposition 18 for two years was inevitable, since backers of the $11.1 billion water bond measure correctly perceived that it could not win voter approval in November. But California cannot wait until 2012 to begin restoring the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the supplier of half of Silicon Valley’s water.

The next governor and the Legislature must use that time to improve the delta’s aging levees, fix its ecosystem by improving the water flow throughout the estuary, and reduce the amount of the bond — by removing some pork-barrel spending — to make the 2012 bond more palatable to voters.

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The real opportunity is to completely privatize water in Calfironia. That way, market forces would sort out issues of scarcity and price.

Voters should have gotten a chance on water bond

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

While water bond proponents like Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrat Senate Pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg, scrambled for the two-thirds vote necessary to snatch Proposition 18 from the jaws of almost certain defeat at the hands of deficit and economy weary voters in November – the measure’s environmental and conservationist opponents – having joined forces with good governance, education and taxpayer rights advocates – lost their bid to keep the initiative alive. Not to pass it, but to present it as a sacrificial lamb for voters to slaughter as a warning to future legislative attempts to govern by favoring special interests over the best interests of the state’s economic and natural resources.

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Comment: Right. Voters should have been allowed to veto this turkey of a water bond. Now, they’ll have to wait another two years to do so.

Bakersfield Californian: Fat won’t make water bond float

If California lawmakers and the governor are earnest about addressing the state’s water problems, they should break out the butcher knife and hack away at the fat loading down a stalled, $11 billion water bond.

With the flaccid economy and state finances in distress, they recognized the bond measure had no chance of passing in the November general election and, wisely, removed it from the ballot and shelved it until 2012.

The bond’s ostensible purpose was to fund a series of projects to improve the state’s water storage and conveyance plumbing, with particular focus on the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the heart of California’s water supply. Such steps are necessary to sustain our burgeoning population and vital farm industry.

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Comment: Better yet, instead of bonds, these water projects should be paid for on a pay-as-you-go basis.

California Puts Off Huge Water-Upgrade Effort

California lawmakers have voted to delay putting an $11.1 billion water bond to voters, extending a battle to rework the biggest effort in decades to upgrade the state’s water system.

The legislators also agreed to lengthen the terms of California’s nine water commissioners appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a change that some critics of the governor say could give him influence over the direction of the state’s water projects after leaving office in January. The commissioners’ terms would have ended at a various times over the next few years; they will now all hold their positions until May 2014.

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Water bond delay: When a loss is still a victory

On Monday night, the California legislature voted on a proposal to postpone Proposition 18, the $11 billion water bond, to the 2012 ballot. For bond opponents, there were moments of celebration, as when Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-Santa Rosa), a bond supporter last year, spoke in favor of pulling the bond from the ballot indefinitely. There were also moments of frustration, as when bond opponent Sandre Swanson (D- Alameda/Oakland) flipped his vote last minute and opted to keep the bond afloat for another two years.

In the end, the push to postpone the bond to 2012 passed by the smallest of margins. It’s not what bond opponents wanted. Ideally, the legislature would have seen the light and scrapped it altogether, or let the voters pull the plug this November so we could get to work on better approaches.

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Comment: In 2012, the bond is going to be just as bad, and the state just as broke — so it’ll lose then, too.

Calif. lawmakers pull $11B water bond from ballot


After some intense late-night vote wrangling, California lawmakers on Monday answered Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s call to pull an $11.1 billion water bond off the November ballot.

The Legislature narrowly passed two bills that would postpone the vote until 2012 and delay the terms of the nine members of the California Water Commission, which is tasked with allocating some of the bond funds.

The bills, AB1260 and AB1265, passed relatively easily through the state Senate, but ran into heavy opposition in the Assembly. It took several rounds of voting to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to pass AB1265, and there wasn’t a vote to spare.

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Comment: They should have left the bonds on the ballot, so they would lose.

Water bond opponents want to keep it on the ballot

The state Legislature may act Monday on bills that would yank an $11-billion water bond off the November ballot and delay it until 2012, but opponents are gearing up to quash the move.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders including Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) want to delay the measure, which faces difficulty passing this year because many voters are reluctant to approve more borrowing during the poor economy.

“The end goal is for it to pass,” said Alicia Trost, a spokeswoman for Steinberg. With California voters facing a lot of other issues, “including a long list of other measures on the November ballot, we strongly believe it should be delayed,” she said.

Two bills to pull it off the ballot and delay the measure are available for action when the Legislature convenes on Monday, which is the deadline for voter information guides on the November ballot to go to the printer.

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Legislation takes shape to postpone water bond

Lawmakers are set to vote next week on a set of bills that would move the $11.1 billion water bond to the 2012 general election ballot.

Two bills were amended Thursday in the Senate to push Proposition 18, currently slated for the Nov. 2 election, to the election on Nov. 6, 2012.

Assembly Bill 1265, by Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, and Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, delays the water bond vote. A second bill, AB 1260, by Assemblywoman Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, would delay the terms for appointees to the California Water Commission, the body tasked with allocating some of the bond’s funds.

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Actually, they should keep the bond on the ballot so voters can wipe it out.

Previous money unspent as leaders urge new bond


As California grapples with chronic and massive debt, state leaders are pushing voters to approve one of the largest bonds in state history, $11 billion in money they say is necessary to help repair and rebuild the beleaguered water system.

But a Chronicle investigation has found that of the more than $20 billion in state water bonds passed since 1996, more than $3 billion has never been spent. And about $1 billion of that unspent money was intended for projects in line to get even more money from the upcoming bond measure.
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Comment: The Prop. 18 bond would cost $800 million a year, when the state budget still is in the red by $19 billion. Instead of passing Prop. 18, the $12 billion bullet-choochoo boondoggle should be repealed.

Hollywood Stars Slam Schwarzenegger’s Water Bond

The PSA features such actors as David DeLuise, from “Wizards of Waverly Place” and son of Dom DeLuise; Justine Bateman, from “Family Ties,” “Californication” and “Desperate Housewives;” Kelly Williams, from “Lie to Me,” “The Practice” and “Scrubs”; Anna Belknap, from “CSI: NY.”

Hollywood Stars Slam Schwarzenegger’s Water Bond

by Dan Bacher

The No on 18 Campaign on Tuesday announced its release of a public service announcement featuring Hollywood actors united against Proposition 18, the $11.14 billion pork-laden water bond backed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

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Comment: Arnold’s Hollywood pals finally have gotten wise to him, about how he has wrecked California. The bonds would cost $11 billion, or $800 million a year, at a time when the state budget is $19 billion in the red.

Cal Water Bond: What does Prop. 18 really say and do?

At the end of 2009, the California Legislature passed a series of water-related bills and at the same time approved a massive $11.14 billion bond [the “Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010”] to fund a wide range of water projects and efforts. This is the largest water bond in 50 years, yet the costs and benefits of the bond have not been fully assessed by an independent organization. Until now.

This bond is to be voted on by California voters in November, as Proposition 18. The Governor recently proposed postponing the bond, but the Legislature has not yet taken the action required to have it pulled off of the November ballot.

The Pacific Institute has just completed a major, comprehensive, and independent analysis of the bond and released the report: The California 2010 Water Bond: What Does It Say and Do?

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Trager Water Report Commentary: The bottom line is that the state is broke and can’t afford the $800 million yearly bond cost, especially for all the pork in it.

Clean Water Action Opposes Bad Water Bond!

Proposition 18 is the largest water bond ever placed before voters, and is the fifth water bond in the last decade. Just paying the bond back will put a tremendous stress on the state’s already depleted General Fund, which is used to repay general obligation bonds. In the past two years, California’s General Fund expenditures have shrunk by about 15%, from a high of $102 billion in 2007-2008 to an estimated $86 billion this year(1), resulting in significant cuts to state services and payments to local counties. These cuts will get worse if this bond is passes since repayment of general obligation bonds takes precedence over most other General Fund expenditures – like higher education and in-home support services for seniors. This year, $5.75 billion from the General Fund will go to pay debt service on existing bonds and the number is expected to grow to over $10 billion in 2013-2014 as already approved but unspent bonds are sold(2).

As California’s economy struggles to recover, repayment of an $11.14 billion bond would cost the General Fund another $800 million annually or $24 billion over 30 years.

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Hollywood vs. water bond – Prop. 18

Governor Schwarzenegger is promoting Proposition 18, a massive $11 billion water bond to help big agribusiness at the expense of essential services. Sagging poll numbers have the Governor and legislative leaders trying to move the measure until 2012 when it might be more likely to pass.

But Governor Schwarzenegger isn’t the only celebrity weighing in on the future of the state’s water. We asked a few of our friends in Hollywood what they thought of the water bond and the prospect postponing it for two years. They all had the same reaction, and we captured it all on video.

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California’s Water Woes Continue

Written by  Cara Martinson    
July 22, 2010 

Cara Martinson is CSAC’s Legislative Analyst for Agriculture and Natural Resources. For more, visit The County Voice.

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.

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Assembly speaker open to rewriting water bond

Here we go again. Maybe.

This afternoon, Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, told reporters that he would be open to a rewrite of the $11 billion water bond passed by the Legislature last year. That bond is slated to be on the November ballot, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other legislative leaders have called for pulling it off and delaying it two years.

They also have been adamant that the bond, which has been criticized as containing too much pork, stay as-is while opponents of the bond have been calling for a do-over.

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Water bond’s ripples awash in the Capitol

The political fight to get an $11.1 billion water bond on California’s Nov. 2 ballot was tough. The fight to get it off the same ballot may be tough, too.

The same forces – and some new ones – are in play again: Environmentalists vs. business interests, Delta protectionists vs. farmers, Northern California vs.  Southern California, Republicans vs. Democrats, construction workers vs. conservationists. An underlying tension pits the demands of environmentalists to protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and block new reservoirs against the building of new dams and the movement of more water to the Central Valley and Southern California.

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Opinion: ‘Pork’ label unfair to Sierra Nevada water project

By Bob Kirkwood and Jim Branham

Special to the Mercury News

Posted: 07/12/2010 08:00:00 PM PDT

As we head into the heat of summer, the politics of water will once again warm up as well.

Last year a water bond was passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, placing it on this November’s ballot. However, due to current economic factors, the governor has proposed removing it from the ballot, indicating this is not the time for a vote on such a measure. The Legislature is considering the governor’s call, ultimately deciding the fate of the current bond proposal.

Some, including the Mercury News editorial writers, have suggested that the measure is full of pork-barrel spending. Apparently they believe huge sums of money are going to areas that have nothing to do with providing clean water for our homes, farms and environment. The Sierra Nevada region does not fit that picture.

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Editorial: Pricey water bond deserves a revamp

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a savvy enough political player to see a punch coming before it lands. That’s why he called on lawmakers last week to delay a November ballot vote on a proposed $11.1 billion water bond.

That was a wise move by the governor, but not wise enough. Instead of hoping for more support in 2012, he and state lawmakers should repeal the water bond legislation and come back with a smaller, equitable and less pork-filled package that could be more easily sold to voters.

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Dan Walters: What’s next for water bond?

It appears certain that the $11.1 billion water bond, the centerpiece of a historic water policy agreement championed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be removed from the November ballot.

Concerned that the bond measure would be rejected by angry, recession-battered voters, Schwarzenegger and the Legislature’s water policy leaders agreed last week that it should be postponed at least until the 2012 election – much as an earlier high-speed rail bond issue was postponed until it could win passage.

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