A message from the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) — Aug. 4, 2014
Legislature Returns Today for Final Month of Session; 2014 Water Bond to be Priority Issue This Week
With the Legislature set to return from summer recess today, action on a modified 2014 water bond is expected this week.
Discussions continue in both houses, and legislative leaders have identified the water bond as a top priority. Multiple proposals are in play, and the appropriate level of funding for storage and Delta restoration will be among the key issues when lawmakers return today.
Status of Proposals:
In late June, Gov. Jerry Brown put an initial proposal on the table that called for a $6 billion bond, with $2 billion for storage, $1.5 billion for water quality / supply, $1.5 billion for watersheds, $500 million for BDCP-neutral Delta restoration, and $500 million for flood management.
In the Senate, Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) amended her SB 848 just before the summer recess. The measure was reduced from a $10.5 billion bond to a $7.5 billion bond in reaction to the $6 billion proposal from the governor.
The proposed storage funding in SB 848 was reduced to $2 billion, continuously appropriated, which is $1 billion short of the $3 billion number that ACWA and Republican lawmakers have been advancing. The July 3 amendments to SB 848 also reduced funding for the Delta to $850 million.
ACWA currently has an oppose-unless-amended position on SB 848 and is reviewing the latest version of the bill, which is awaiting action on the Senate floor.
Meanwhile in the Assembly, lawmakers have been working under the leadership of Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare) to reach agreement on an Assembly version of the water bond that may go into AB 2686 (Perea), which is currently at $10.75 billion but is likely to be downsized to the $8 billion range. ACWA has a support position on the current version of the bill, which is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
ACWA remains optimistic that an agreement can be reached.
At its July 25 meeting, the ACWA Board of Directors discussed the need for a negotiated bond that can be approved by the necessary two-thirds vote in both houses and signed by the governor.
Based on the Board’s direction, ACWA is prepared to support a compromise bond with the following features:
* Total funding: The final package is expected to be in the $7 billion to $8.2 billion range, given the governor’s desire to reduce the size of the bond.
* Storage: The bond must provide substantial funding for water storage. With significant cuts being proposed in all versions of the bond including the Assembly, Senate and governor’s proposals, the total amount for storage may end up being reduced from the original $3 billion. Storage remains ACWA’s highest priority.
* Delta: ACWA previously proposed $2.25 billion for Delta restoration consistent with the 2009 comprehensive legislation, but the governor has stated he would only support a bond that is BDCP-neutral. ACWA supports the governor’s position.
* Other categories: ACWA believes the bond must provide funding for local resources development projects, including IRWM programs; groundwater cleanup; safe drinking water, including for disadvantaged communities; recycling; water conservation; watershed enhancement and protection; and flood management.
Once a modified bond is passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, ACWA’s Board will take a formal position on the final measure.
ACWA’s big-picture goal is to secure a bond that advances a comprehensive, statewide plan to address California’s water needs.
We will provide updates as developments unfold this week.
ACWA members may direct questions to ACWA Deputy Executive Director for Government Relations Cindy Tuck at email@example.com, or 916-441-4545.Tags: legislation, policy, water