Thursday, September 10, 2009

Water in the capitol: thick with discontent

The conference reports are out, and with tomorrow's deadline looming, discontent is clouding water policy in the capitol.

In Sacramento, the water conference committee has finished its conference report, reworking five delta-related bills for approval in both houses by tomorrow, the last day of this year's regular session.

But the prevailing atmosphere seems to bolster the cynics' oft-heard doubts of the legislature's ability to approve a historic delta solution this year. Republicans have already referred to the conference committee's proceedings as a "dog and pony show," and Sen. Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto), who sits on the committee, yesterday dismissed the bill package as a failure:

"The conference report is an unbalanced package of bills that ignores the need for a reliable water supply and only caters to the interests of extreme environmentalists. These bills will guarantee that we never improve the failing condition of California's water system. We had hoped that the Democrats had listened to the numerous hours of public testimony before drafting their conference report but it appears they haven't heard the cries of farmers, farm workers, businesses and residents throughout the state. As Republicans, we wholeheartedly agree that we must fix the fragile Delta while at the same time bolstering our economy. This package of bills disregards the co-equal nature of these goals and will do nothing to create jobs and keep water flowing in this state."

None of the committee's Republican members signed the final conference report.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), the committee's co-chair, acknowledged the package's lack of a bond to pay for water-system improvements (including new storage) that Republicans have pushed for and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has demanded, and that Democrats have lately come to support. Republican and Democratic bond proposals are currently on the table.

Steinberg's statement:

“I am proud that the conference committee process has produced legislation that will enhance the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and ensures California will have clean, reliable drinking water for years to come. This package represents crucial advancements in resource infrastructure for the state, but it is incomplete with out a financing plan to go with it. I will continue to work with members and the stakeholders in the coming days to make sure California can pay for the important improvements that this water package offers the Delta ecosystem and California’s water delivery system.”

And in today's Sacramento Bee, Steinberg expands a bit on why the conference report is an imperfect compromise.

No comments:

Ag in the West social media watch

Capital Press videos on YouTube

Our most popular videos