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Brown Calls For New, Smaller Water Bond

Jerry Brown
Andrew Nixon
Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown wants to scrap the 11 billion dollar water bond scheduled for California’s November ballot and replace it with a smaller proposal of his own. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.
Six billion dollars. That’s what the governor says he’s willing to spend. Not 11, like the existing bond; not eight or nine billion, like some of the proposals floating around the Legislature. Six billion. In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Brown put forth an argument of fiscal prudence for a state already 30 billion dollars in debt.

Brown: “A lot of people say, well, we’ll just throw more in. Well, you have to be careful, because the people are not in a mood for taking on big new spending obligations. And if that’s what they conceive this bond to be, they may well vote no, and then you’ll have a big fat zero, which is a lot less than $6 billion or $8 or $9 billion.” 

Brown’s proposal includes two billion dollars for storage projects, like dams and reservoirs. The Senate Republican leader declared in a statement that anything less than three billion won’t cut it. But GOP Senator Anthony Cannella, a key swing vote, said he might – reluctantly – be open to a little less.

Cannella: “I think the $3 billion number is the number that really builds the improvements that we need. But I’m willing to look at that, and if everyone comes down, then I’m willing to come down as well.” 

The other big sticking point is which state agency would control the money to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta’s ecosystem. Democrat Senator Lois Wolk says the governor’s office has been trying to find a middle ground between Delta and environmental groups and water and agriculture groups.

Wolk: “It has to be a reasonable bond. It has to have the support of the governor. It must be tunnel neutral, and he is very clear about that, and I support that strongly.” 

Negotiators have until the end of next week to replace the existing bond on the November ballot.

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