California state Senate approves postponing $11 billion water bond... again

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Your November 2012 ballot is going to be a little easier to tackle, as state lawmakers have voted to remove an $11 billion water bond from the jam-packed ballot, and instead put it up for a vote in 2014. Democrats and Republicans alike were worried that the bond measure was too big and included too many projects that weren’t linked directly to conserving water or repairing dams and levees.

The Senate voted 34-2 to pass AB 1422, the bill by Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) to delay the bond measure. The Assembly’s vote was 69-6.

Assembly Speaker John Perez released a statement after the vote that insisted lawmakers were committed to “creating a safe and sufficient water supply” and to do it “in a cost-effective manner.”

Said Perez, “In the current climate, the best way to achieve that is a water bond that will have a better chance of success with Californians in 2014.”

The Legislature used to think the best way was to take the water bond off the 2010 ballot and put it up for a vote this year. But a slow recovery, nagging budget problems and Gov. Jerry Brown’s push for a tax increase on the November 2012 ballot raised fears that a water bond would be too much for voters.

Some lawmakers want to scrap the water bond completely and write a new and leaner bill without what they say are $800 million of “pork” projects.

Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) conceded the bill has flaws, but it was also “10 years in the making” — and has enough value in it to put it up for a vote.

But San Rafael Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman described the bill as “the bond that can't pass and won't be allowed to die.” He’s pushing for a new bond.

Other lawmakers are worried that with the state’s water infrastructure in need of repair, California can’t wait for a legislature fractured along political and geographic lines to reach agreement on a new water bond measure.

This story has been updated.

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