|With no agreement on a revised Water Bond in sight, it appears discussions won’t resume until the Legislature returns from its month long summer recess which begins today and ends on August 4th. Earlier in the week, authors of the three Assembly water bonds met with key legislative leaders in hopes of reaching agreement. A special hearing of the Assembly Appropriations Committee was also scheduled early in the week in order to hear two bond measures, AB 2686 (Perea) and AB 2043 (Bigelow). However, negotiations stalled and it soon became evident that there was no deal and the Appropriations Committee hearing was cancelled.
While there are no details in print yet, press reports have described the Assembly’s plan as an $8.25 billion water bond that, among other provisions, would include $2.75 billion for water storage projects (the key component for Republican members), $650 million for the Delta, $400 million for levee construction, and $250 million for ecosystem restoration. Of importance to CASA members would be a provision for $900 million for water recycling. However, we would caution that the negotiations still have a long way to go.
There has been little outward action in the Senate since our last report outlining the defeat and subsequent reconsideration of SB 848, a $10.8 billion measure by Senator Lois Wolk.
Leadership in both houses have voiced frustration over not reaching agreement on a Bond measure, citing unrealistic expectations from the myriad of stakeholders involved in the negotiations. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, in an interview with Capitol Public Radio, said: “We need parochial interests to take a back seat to the needs of the entire state.
If one region gets undercut, that’s going to have economic and environmental repercussions in other parts of the state.” Thus far the key bond bills in both houses are significantly higher amounts than the $6 billion price tag Governor Brown suggested to legislative leaders in late June. Meanwhile the Secretary of State’s deadline of June 26th for accepting measures for the November ballot has passed. We are told the key deadline is now August 11th when that office begins preparing to print materials to be mailed to voters. However, this deadline has been exceeded in the past with the Secretary of State having to print a supplemental ballot at an additional cost.