By Dan Walters
Published: Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 – 10:27 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 – 11:30 pm
Chances are that sometime Wednesday the Legislature will place a new water bond issue on the Nov. 4 ballot.
But it’s not certain, because as of late Tuesday, not all Democratic legislators had signed onto a $7.2 billion plan and it still lacked votes it needs from Republicans even if all Democrats were aboard.
Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders fashioned the plan – a $6.995 billion bond and $200 million from previously authorized water bonds – to replace a 2009-vintage, $11.1 billion bond issue already on the ballot, contending that the current measure is too large and pork-laden to win voter approval.
However, it reduces the appropriation for new reservoirs and other water storage projects from $3 billion to $2.5 billion, thereby crossing a line that Republicans had drawn in the dirt. And it’s an issue for some farm belt Democrats as well as Republicans.
Two major farm organizations that had supported the $3 billion figure backed off and now support the $2.5 billion appropriation – and in doing so angered Republican leaders – but other agricultural groups still want the higher number. It looms as a hurdle that must be cleared if an agreement on a new water package is to win approval.
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