Lots of pats-on-the-back for legislators and the governor as they reached an agreement to put a $7.5 billion water bond on November’s ballot. One thing that should be noted, when Republican votes were needed to achieve a two-thirds support necessary to pass the bond, they did not respond as painted by many, particularly in the media, as the “Party of No.”
Republicans offered an appealing alternative to the $11 billion bond already qualified for the ballot. The GOP version was $8.7 billion and contained the $3 billion Republicans desired for building dams for water storage. They didn’t get that in the end – but they did get a 35% boost to the water storage portion of the bond from $2 billion to $2.7 billion.
Republicans compromised, as did Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers. Brown originally came forward with a $6 billion bond that party leaders refused to embrace. One has the sense the governor knew that bond would go nowhere; that it was his way to begin the bargaining with a low bid.
Democrats made it clear that Delta restoration funds would be limited and would not act as a jumping off point for advancing the governor’s twin-tunnel proposal. They accepted the increase in water storage funds, which were a Republican priority.
As I wrote in yesterday’s column, “Adding a little more to the storage piece while assuring environmentalists that the tunnel debate will occur at another time and place likely would be the compromise to get a new, slimmed down bond on the ballot.”
Seems pretty obvious but politics offer disrupts the obvious. In this case that did not happen.
The drought crisis is not over by any means. Whatever the bond does to alleviate the drought situation doesn’t even begin to help until the voters approve the bond in November.
However, a good bond deal was needed for the state and at first blush, it seems to have been achieved. The result is good for the legislative process as a whole, another mark of confidence in the governor’s leadership ability, and good for the image of the Republican Party as it fights to get back in the political game.