20 Jan Legislative Analyst Completes Review of California Water Priorities Ballot Measure
California Water Alliance (CalWA) executive director Aubrey Bettencourt today announced that California Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor and Director of Finance Michael Cohen reported their findings to Attorney General Kamala Harris regarding CalWA’s proposed constitutional and statutory amendment for November’s General Election ballot.
In its report to Attorney General Harris, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, or LAO, found that the measure “would not significantly increase or decrease the state’s anticipated debt payments.”
“We are pleased that the LAO agrees that our measure performs as we intended and has no undesirable fiscal effects,” said Bettencourt. “From the outset, we wrote it to avoid any new taxes, new debt, new user fees, or other costs to the state’s taxpayers.”
The measure would redirect up to $10.7 billion in previously authorized High-Speed Rail Project and 2014 Water Bond general obligation bond authority to fund construction of specific water-storage related projects throughout the state and amend the state’s constitution to prioritize uses of water, putting people’s needs first.
By helping to solve California’s water storage infrastructure needs, the initiative would remove unspent bond funds from the High-Speed Rail Project approved by voters in 2008, now listed as the least important infrastructure priority according to the recent Stanford Golden State Poll. Dealing with the state’s water problems is the majority of voters top priority according to the same poll.
CalWA sponsored the measure with state senator Bob Huff and Board of Equalization vice-chair George Runner, its proponents.
The LAO also found that the net effect of the measure on federal funds and its impact on state and local governments were unknown, and reported that the measure could cause unknowable changes in other state capital projects.
Bettencourt said that Attorney General Harris is expected to finish her review within a week and release an official title and summary for the measure, the first step in circulating petitions to qualify the measure for placement on November’s ballot.
“The people of California will be given the ability to reprioritize the state’s direction for the needs of today — from a high speed train to water storage,” Bettencourt said. “They will soon be able to sign the measure’s petition and help us in our efforts to qualify this important initiative measure for a vote of the people,” she concluded.