State Senator Anna Caballero of Salinas has an uncomfortable history with water bonds, as she shared in a conversation with the Maddy Institute on Monday.
As an assemblymember, Caballero authored an $11.1 billion water bond in 2010 that included funding for surface water storage. Lawmakers bumped the measure and in 2014 then-Gov. Jerry Brown proposed cutting it nearly in half when the economy softened and he was nervous about putting a large bond on the ballot, she said. Instead, the Legislature, and later voters, approved Proposition 1 for $7.1 billion. Yet troubles remained.
“Unfortunately, it has not lived up to its commitment to spend money in the development of dams in particular,” Caballero said. “Frankly, the money has gone to a variety of different projects. The commitment to the Central Valley really has not borne fruit.”
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She added that Californians in the Central Valley have become disillusioned with water bonds because of that.
GOP Assemblymember Devon Mathis of Visalia was also disgruntled about water bond funding getting cut and divvied up for other projects. That’s why he revived an ambitious measure to set aside 2% of the state’s general taxpayer revenues for water infrastructure investments, he said.
“If we go this way,” said Mathis, “we know there's ongoing funding until all the projects would need get built.”