Published in the Kern County Valley Ag Voice – September 2014 Issue
With no time to spare, the California Legislature came together in a bipartisan way that is rarely seen in the halls of the State Capitol, and approved a $7.5 billion water bond.
Valley legislators in both houses and from both parties fought hard to help the Valley. I want to thank them for their efforts, and thank the governor for listening to the bipartisan voice of the Valley.
The result was the passage of Assembly Bill 1471, which I co-authored. It was approved with a unanimous 37-0 vote in the Senate and was signed by the governor. This pared down water bond will replace the $11.1 billion water bond (from 2009) on the November ballot.
While this bond is nearly $4 billion smaller than the 2009 version, nearly 40 percent of the funds are dedicated to water storage. This bond will finally allow California to build additional reservoirs that will provide additional water storage for our region.
Although the bond resulted in overwhelming bipartisan support, the fight to get to this point was challenging.
One of my top priorities in my first year in the Senate has been to work with legislators from the northern and southern regions of the state, along with my Central Valley colleagues, to whittle down the $11.1 billion bond, while ensuring adequate funding for water storage was maintained.
In January, I co-authored a $9.2 billion water bond proposal with Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres). That measure didn’t advance, but it did receive bipartisan support, so I knew we were working in the right direction. As negotiations continued, I co-authored a new $8.7 billion water bond proposal as the deadline loomed to get a new bond on the November ballot.
In the end, much of what I was fighting for ended up in the $7.5 billion bond, including $2.7 billion for water storage, which is nearly $1 billion more than what Governor Brown originally proposed. The money for water storage also includes a “continuous appropriation” so that these funds can’t get blocked by future legislatures.
After five waterless water bonds, we’ve finally moved in the right direction by investing in surface storage. I firmly believe that this new water bond will expand California’s water capacity, bring desperately-needed water to our Valley and put people back to work.
This historic compromise shows what can happen when members of the Legislature and the governor come together to solve a serious problem.