State Treasurer Says Water Infrastructure Funding Should Come From Users; Bond Spending Not Fiscally Prudent Now

For months, Governor Schwarzenegger has been pressuring lawmakers to saddle taxpayers with a multi-billion dollar bond to pay for new dams and other water infrastructure.

Last week in the Debt Affordability Report for 2009, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer pointed out the flaws in that approach, calling instead for the users of new water infrastructure to pay for the projects themselves:

“…this report makes clear that further increasing the General Fund’s debt burden, especially in the next three difficult budgets, would require cutting even deeper into crucial services already reeling from billions of dollars in reductions. The case for user-funding for most water system improvements is compelling, both as a matter of equity and fiscal prudence.”

We couldn’t agree more. When Californians are suffering from draconian cuts to vital public services like education, health care, and environmental programs, it’s irresponsible to ask taxpayers to take on more debt for dams that water agencies are unwilling to pay for themselves.

As the Legislature debates the future of the Delta and California’s water management system, it must take responsibility for determining how much its plans will cost and make sure that the right people pay.