Governor proposes $9 billion bond plan, dams centerpiece
SACRAMENTO (AP) ” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday proposed a $9 billion water bond measure that would earmark more than half the money for dams opposed by most of the Democrats who dominate the Legislature.
The proposal eclipses the governor’s previous $5.9 billion bond plan, in large part by adding a third dam project in Contra Costa County.
Whether the lawmakers will go along with dams ” and how much they are willing to pay for them ” will be a key part of the negotiations in the Legislature’s upcoming special session on water projects.
Senate President Pro Tem. Don Perata, D-Oakland, has introduced his own $5.4 billion water bond proposal, but his plan would allow communities to apply for state grants to build their own dams if they want to spend the money that way.
Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, said the Assembly would need weeks to go through the details of the competing bond proposals, all but assuring lawmakers would miss a Sept. 27 constitutional deadline to put a bond proposal on the Feb. 5 presidential primary ballot. However, both sides acknowledged that deadline could be extended.
Schwarzenegger’s proposal was introduced by Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, and includes $5.1 billion to expand the Los Vaqueros reservoir built by Contra Costa County, build a dam above the existing Friant Dam north of Fresno and another in a valley north of Sacramento. The state would pay as much as half of the construction costs on each project, a sticking point with Democrats who say the state has never paid more than 3 percent of a dam.
The Schwarzenegger plan would not allow money to be used to build a peripheral canal around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, although the state could study the project.
The remainder of the governor’s proposal would provide $1.9 billion to restore the delta, $1 billion for water recycling, conservation and other supply reliability projects and $500 million to help local agencies undertake environmental restoration projects around the state.
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