The $3 billion drought relief package proposed by Senate Democrats in the Legislature stoked fears last week of a money grab for Prop. 1 dollars that voters had approved for water storage infrastructure.

The drought plan has no policy proposals for the water bond money, other than encouraging the Water Commission to reallocate unspent dollars—something the commission is already in the process of reviewing. The document does, however, say the projects should be “sustainable,” without detailing what that would mean. This was enough to trigger an angry response from Republican Sen. Brian Dahle of Lassen County during a budget subcommittee hearing. 

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“In Prop. 1, [Republicans] negotiated in that bill that it was going to be for storage,” said Dahle. “I don't want to see those funds diverted off.”

Subcommittee Chair Bob Wieckowski of Fremont explained that the provision is “just a suggestion. It's not a budget item.”

In October, the Temperance Flat authority handed $145 million back to the commission after officials were unable to gather enough matching funds to move forward with the reservoir proposal. Voters approved the Prop. 1 funding in 2014 specifically for surface water storage.