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Pérez remains noncommittal about water bond delay

July 7, 2010 | 12:51 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) don't appear to agree on much these days. But they do agree that delaying a scheduled vote on the state's $11-billion water bond is a good idea and may be the only way to pass the plan.

Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles), however, is not so sure.

Pérez said in an interview that he is open to talks about moving the bond off the November 2010 ballot and waiting until June 2012 to put the measure before voters. But he's not ready to give Schwarzenegger what he wants quite yet.

"I have to look at it," he said. "You see pockets in the Central Valley with unemployment close to 40%. So I have concerns about what the impact of a delay is."

The measure was placed on the ballot by the Legislature last year and can be moved off the November ballot with a two-thirds vote of both legislative houses.

Many capitol hands say Pérez's reluctance to commit to pushing for a delay reflects a major difference in the negotiating styles of the two Democratic leaders in the Capitol. Steinberg, a policy wonk by nature, supported the delay as matter of practical public policy. Pérez, however, appears to see a negotiating chip. The governor needs his support to delay the bond, and there may be an opportunity to use that as leverage for something else.

"This is a serious matter," Pérez said. "It's not one for rash consideration."

--Anthony York in Sacramento