California Legislature votes to postpone water bond to 2014
Deciding an $11-billion water bond measure is ill-timed and too fat, the state Senate voted Thursday to pull it from the November ballot, delaying it until 2014. The Assembly was expected to finalize the decision later Thursday or Friday.
[Update, 3:19 p.m. The Assembly later approved the bill to delay the water bond and sent it to the governor]
Democratic legislators worried that asking voters in November to approve massive new debt to improve the state’s water system would jeopardize Gov. Jerry Brown’s $8-billion tax measure on the same ballot.
"We are faced with a tax levy in November. It would be disastrous to have it (water bond) on the ballot,'' said Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis). This is the second time the measure was delayed. It was originally set for the 2010 ballot.
Lawmakers worried that the water bond measure might be rejected on its own because of criticism by Wolk and others that it is too large and full of projects that have been criticized as having little to do with improving water quality.
Wolk voted for the delay but called for the bond to be revamped. She criticized projects including economic development projects, a water-taxi service at Lake Tahoe and the construction of water education centers.
"It remains pork-filled and untenable," Wolk said. "It truly should be repealed."
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) agreed that the bond should be scaled back but said it's so large in part because it had to be expanded to get the two-thirds votes in 2009 to put it on the ballot. "One person's pork is another person's regional water solution,'' Steinberg said.
— Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Water roars from the gates of Folsom Dam, a major water-storage facility in California. Credit: AP Photo / Bob Galbraith