Opponents of the legislation were quick to seize the moment and complain that instead of delaying the legislation, they ought to dump it altogether.
“Proposition 18 should not be delayed, it should be repealed,” said Assemblymember Yamada. “The same issues that we faced before – unrelated projects, excessive debt burden and minimal Delta representation in discussions – have not changed. AB 1260 is a precedent-setting measure that ensures the legacy of the current governor without a clear purpose as to why. AB 1265 delays implementation of a water infrastructure funding solution that was sold as being so urgent, passage could not wait a few months in order to have a more carefully crafted piece of legislation. Now the same majority who put this bond on the ballot wants to wait another two years, without any promise of revision.”
“This $11 billion general obligation bond will further strain the State’s General Fund and continues to be fiscally irresponsible,” continued Yamada. “I voted NO because Californians want us to start over and come to a consensus that achieves the goal of protecting the Delta and ensuring future water supplies in a fiscally responsible way.”
She was joined in the condemnation by other staunch opponents of the bond that would spend $11.1 billion on a variety of water infrastructure.
“What greater opportunity would you have to improve it than to delay it for two years?” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, addressing those who wanted to kill it altogether.
Senator Lois Wolk, who represents Yolo County in the Senate, said that the measure ought to be on the November ballot as planned so it could be voted down by the voters. She is concerned that the measure would increase the state’s reliance on the Delta, the preservation of which has been a hallmark issue of her legislative career.
“We can’t afford it. It’s fiscally irresponsible to move this forward, even to 2012,” said Senator Wolk. “It’s not going to get any better.”
Other critics simply want the measure dumped.
“The bond is bad now and it will be bad two years from now,” said Elanor Starmer, Western Region Director of Food & Water Watch, a consumer group organizing against the water bond. “The Governor called for postponement because it is so unpopular with voters. All the political punting in the world won’t change that. We’re confident that voters will reject it when it comes before them, regardless of the year.”
“Voters want the right solutions to California’s water problems now, not the wrong solutions two years from now,” said Tina Andolina of the Planning and Conservation League. “The passage of A.B. 1265 just delays any progress on meaningful water solutions by keeping this disastrous bond on life support.”
“We heard a laundry list of reasons why the bond is bad for California during the legislative debate on AB 1265,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parilla of Restore the Delta. “Yet the legislature voted to keep the measure afloat for another two years. The problems with the bond will only grow more glaring with time.”
“The bond’s $22 billion price tag will still be $22 billion in two years,” Jim Metropulos of the Sierra Club said. “Meanwhile, we have billions of dollars for water projects that have been approved by voters but are still unspent. Voters know that it’s unfair for special interests to be coming to the legislature for more money out of taxpayers’ pockets.”
“Now or two years from now – it doesn’t matter,” said Jennifer Clary of Clean Water Action. “The bond won’t be supported by voters because it is the wrong approach.”
At this point the measure will go forward in 2012. This point is unlikely to go away or be resolved in the next two years.
—David M. Greenwald reporting