California water bond negotiations are entering a critical stretch. Time is growing short to replace the current $11 billion measure on the November ballot. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, one proposal failed a key test vote Monday.
Typically, water politics break down along regional lines. But this vote fell on party lines. Democratic Senator Lois Wolk argued that her proposal stands the best chance of passing the legislature this summer – and winning voter approval this fall.
Wolk: “This bond – what we tried to construct with many of your assistance – is something that works for everyone in the state and harms no one.”
But Republican Senator Jim Nielsen says Wolk’s proposal still needs more work. Otherwise, he says, lawmakers might as well leave the existing water bond on the ballot.
Nielsen: “I do believe that the voters of California – now having been confronted with this drought – will be sympathetic. I have always felt that – that that bond should just move as is.”
The existing bond has drawn criticism for being too large, but this replacement proposal would only be half a billion dollars smaller. Republicans believe Governor Jerry Brown will put forth his own suggestions in the coming days. The governor’s office would only say it’s concerned debt service from a water bond could hurt future state budgets.