Water group accepts delay of bond measure
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The marches, rallies and food giveaways organized by the Latino Water Coalition helped create support for a massive $11 billion water bond to expand and build dams, water storage and canals to help growers, and farm workers.
The governor pushed the legislature to put it on the next ballot ... but things have changed. "This was supposed to be on the November ballot but all of the sudden I realized this whole thing was going south."
At a town hall meeting in Fresno, Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed public employee groups are threatening to fight the water bond if the governor presses ahead with pension reform. "No labor is going to use the water to dangle it in front of my nose oh if you touch the pension we're going to go after your water. I said let's take the water off the table, let's put it off to 2012."
But opposition to the bond measure appears to be broader than that. Some legislators see it as pork barrel spending, and want to trim a provision that would give dams and canals paid for by taxpayers, to private companies.
The California Teachers Association opposes the water bond because they fear the $800 million a year in payments the state would have to make would force cuts in other areas, like education.
Because of the growing organized opposition, the Latino Water Coalition has reluctantly agreed to support the governor's call for a delay. "It was not something we planned for. We thought we would be done by November. We're not. We're committed to finishing up the next two years."
Latino Water Coalition Chairman Mario Santoyo admits it will not be easy to reorganize and notes support for water issues will wane if the state continues to have wet years.
"We're going back to the drawing board to see how we can sustain such an effort," said Santoyo. "If nature continues to push dry years, that will be helpful. If it's pushing wet years it will be more challenging."
It will be up to the legislature to decide whether to pull the water bond from the ballot. Some lawmakers who oppose the bond want it to be repealed, or, left on the ballot because they are convinced it will be voted down by the people.
arnold schwarzenegger, california water, fresno, fresno county, politics, gene haagenson
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