Capitol Alert: California Senate Democrats float smaller water bond

jwhite@sacbee.comJuly 3, 2014 

A $10.5 billion water bond proposal having fizzled on the Senate floor, Democrats on Thursday unveiled a more modest $7.5 billion effort they hope will pass muster with Gov. Jerry Brown.

Water bond talks heated up a week ago with Gov. Jerry Brown joining the negotiations to say he would prefer a bond in the $6 billion range. A $10.5 billion plan pushed by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, stalled on the Senate floor as Republicans declined to give needed votes.

In the days since, senators have been cobbling together a compromise offer. They outlined the terms of a new, slimmed-down proposal on Thursday that would allocate $7.5 billion for new water projects, with $2 billion going to storage.

"It is certainly close to the price point that the governor put out as what he would like to see," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

Despite the diminished size, the new plan does not appear to have won over Republicans. Because any water bond bill requires a two-thirds vote at least two Republicans would need to vote in favor for a bill to advance out of the Senate. The GOP has said it wants $3 billion in storage projects included.

"It does not appear to be something our members would be inclined to support," said Peter DeMarco, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar.

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