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Democrats prepare to move water bond question off November ballot

June 26, 2012 | 11:00 am

AquaductDemocrats have gone out of their way to make passage of Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative easier, and they are about to give the governor another boost.

First they tucked language into the state budget that moved constitutional amendments like the governor’s to the top of the ballot -- a move that political experts say could help the measure’s prospects for passage in November.

Now, they are preparing to remove an $11.1-billion water bond question from the November ballot altogether, another move aimed in part at boosting the tax proposal.

Mark Hedlund, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), said the Senate leader believes “it would probably be the wisest move” to not put the bond before voters this fall. He said Steinberg would like to limit the scope and cost of the bond, but that would require two-thirds approval in the Legislature, which does not appear likely.

“His preference would have been to try to get the parties together to reduce the size of the bond but those discussions are still ongoing,” Hedlund said. 

The bond was the product of a rare bipartisan effort in the Legislature in 2009, with Democrats and Republicans coming together to support putting the proposal before voters. Now, it seems that vote will not come until November 2014 at the earliest, according to top Democrats.

In addition to the bond, Brown has said he plans a $14-billion project to improve the state’s water infrastructure, but the governor has not yet unveiled the details of that proposal.

A vote to move the bond off the fall ballot is expected before lawmakers adjourn for summer recess next week.

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-- Anthony York in Sacramento

Photo: The California Aqueduct near Tejon Ranch. Credit: Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times

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