Newspapers across California are advising voters that the $11.14 billion water bond that the legislature put on the ballot next November is bloated and unaffordable.
In Southern California, the opposition is loud and clear. On Tuesday The Orange County Register wrote, “The Legislature and governor seem oblivious to state Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s warning that the annual repayments of up to $800 million for the water bond will add to the state’s annual debt service, now at $6 billion and growing. Without the new obligation, debt service payments are projected to escalate from the current 6.7 percent to 10 percent of the state’s general fund budget by 2015.”
In Monday’s article “Our View: The bond is full of waste”, the Merced Sun-Star highlighted to its readers that “The state will have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in interest each year that could go to education.”
Riverside Press-Enterprise’s headlines read “Sweeping state water vote changes law, includes borrowing billions.”
The Contra Costa Times wrote that there are “Winners and Losers in this Water Deal”. The winners are “Delta ‘exporters’ in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California” the losers “Delta counties, taxpayers and the state’s general fund”
The Stockton Record wrote last Sunday they are infuriated by the Governor’s “staggering display of insensitivity” at his “presumption that this region is such an afterthought that it really doesn’t matter whether its residents swallow the transparent greenwashing and legislative charade meant to conceal this late-model Owens Valley water grab.”
The consensus is in and it is not good. In the wake of last week’s legislative all-nighter to pass the water package, the costly pork projects added to garner last minute votes are just surfacing. The bloated bond will appear on the 2010 November ballot. At its peak it would cost the state over $800 million a year in debt service for up to 30 years, taking funding away from California’s schools, health care, firefighters, police officers, state parks, prisons and other social services. The state already has $130 billion dollars in debt and the lowest credit rating in the 50 states.
Californians are being asked to pay for a package that enforces weak policies, allocates $3 billion for dams, and implements management practices that threaten California’s fragile ecosystems. The package does not address the serious over-allocation of California’s water, nor does it mandate groundwater monitoring, or quantify and mandate how much water the Delta needs to support fragile aquatic species.
With California so deep in debt, it is up to voters.