Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 – 8:32 am

Much – probably too much – is being made of the newly minted Democratic supermajorities in the Legislature and the prospects of doing this or that.

While the Democrats’ hegemony does take Republicans completely out of the picture, the Legislature’s partisan conflicts have not been, contrary to popular belief, the primary impediments to effective governance.

Rather, they are the clashes of disparate interest groups – primarily economic in nature, but also cultural and geographic – that naturally coalesce in a state as large and diverse as California. And those differences remain, regardless of which party controls the levers of government at any one moment.

This year’s two most important legislative issues – water and school finance – underscore the point that while party may play a role in what happens, or doesn’t happen, in the Capitol, it’s much less important than generally assumed.

Water has always been an issue that generates regional, as well as ideological, friction. Most of the state’s water supply originates in the sparsely populated northeastern quadrant of the state and most of the demand comes from Central Valley farmers and Southern California’s homes and industries.

For decades, the focus of the conflict has been the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, into which the water flows and from which the transshipments to the south are taken.

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