So the governor and the legislature are moving the water bond to the 2012 elections? I’m not surprised. I could not decide for myself what to vote on the bond, and not only am I in the field, but I’m a liberal who loves to spend, spend, spend*. Even so, I had a hard time facing a new $11B expenditure.
I agree with how I imagine the political calculations went. The bond would have failed this year. Who knows whether two years from now will be better, but failure this year looked pretty certain. This keeps the possibility open.
What would make 2012 better for passing the bond? Two dry years between now and 2012 would make the chance of passage better. A responsible governor who can close the budget gap would make it better. It will be a presidential election year, with high turnout, but I can’t see how that breaks for the bond. Bunch of spendy liberals like me, out voting for Obama might throw the bond measure some votes. But the bond measure also has the potential for dams in it, and we’ve been trained not to like those.
Couldn’t happen to a nicer governor, I say. Schwarzenegger has been pushing this water package so hard; he wants the Peripheral Canal as his legacy. But he was the fucker who cut the car tax on taking office, costing the state $4-6B every year since 2003. He is largely responsible for the giant hole in the budget that makes people unwilling to spend another $11B. I’m glad that circle closed while he was still around to feel it bind.
I’m interested in how we’re going to fulfill the rest of the water legislation without money from the bond behind it. What will pay for the Delta Stewardship Council and the Bay-Delta restoration efforts without that money? What will fund 20 x 2020 now? The water legislation is law; we have to at least pretend that that we’re doing it. How will that happen without funding for doing the work?
I’m somewhat concerned about losing the projects the bond would have funded. I don’t mind losing the $3B for planning Sites, Temperance Flats and the Peripheral Canal. I think the Peripheral Canal will get built as an emergency measure when the Delta collapses in an earthquake and I don’t think the other two will ever get built. It is a shame to lose the Delta restoration funds. But honestly, the piece I liked was the part that everyone keeps calling “pork”. I liked the regional and local projects.
Dr. Michael objects to taxpayers at large paying for the regional and local projects. He thinks that if the local projects are worthwhile, locals should pay for them. I thought they legitimately belonged in a state bond for a few reasons:
- Our next water will be collected from high entropy sources, like stormwater runoff, which is widely distributed and often polluted or from water conservation. It is hard to convince voters to pay for that, even though it would give a region more local control and source security to have that next source available to them.
- I believe local voters want this stuff (they lobbied for the projects, didn’t they?), but they also see a list of other local needs, like keeping pools open and libraries staffed. Even though funding for things like a smart irrigation control rebate is something they do want, they rarely feel they want to pay for it next.
- Some of the local projects are new to an area, and hard to convince locals to tax themselves for in the abstract. It is understandable that they need to see a couple stormwater projects becoming daylighted creeks before they understand how much they like having that amenity.
- Finally, I liked that the bond measure would fund a bunch of these at once. It would have provided $3B of mini-innovation all over the state. Frankly, the stuff in those local projects is what we’re going to have to do next; as a state, we have tapped all the big pure sources. Lets get a bunch of those running fast so the state as a whole can find out which work. Simply getting lots of projects running soon offers value to the state.
Those are my thoughts on delaying the bond measure (and on the bond measure in general). Don’t figure they’ll be relevant again for another couple years.
*I also love high taxes, particularly on the wealthy, to cover those expenditures, but California seems to have forgotten that part. Also, I wish we weren’t buying quite so many prisons with my tax dollars. Those do me remarkably little good for the money I spend.