Sacramento – Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner in partnership with California State Senator Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) announced this week they have filed an initiative aimed at allowing voters to redirect unspent High Speed Rail (Prop 1A, 2008) and above ground water storage (Prop 1, 2014) funds towards building new surface and groundwater storage.
“This initiative does not raise taxes; it does not ask for additional revenue or add any more debt,” said Runner. “It reallocates unused money from past bonds to make better use of it during this dire drought. These funds will help store new water for California families, businesses and food production.”
The measure also establishes priorities for the state’s use of water by adding a new section to Article X of the California Constitution, making drinking water and irrigation the primary beneficial water use priorities for the people of the state ahead of all other needs, according to the proponents. The initiative will not require raising taxes or add more debt to California’s budget.
“California’s economy and our ability to survive depends on a reliable water supply,” said Huff. “This initiative secures our water future by building long-overdue expansions of existing facilities and new projects to store, deliver and recycle water for our families, farms and businesses.”
Runner and Huff join a chorus of elected California Democrats, Republicans and many of the state’s citizens who believe High Speed Rail is off track and would rather use its bond money for more critical projects.
The Water Priorities Constitutional Amendment and New Surface Water and Groundwater Storage Facilities Bond Act has been submitted to the Attorney General for the Secretary of State to review and issue an official title and summary.
Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Assemblywoman Patty Lopez (D-San Fernando) have been vocal opponents to the current project, and in 2014, California Democrats, Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove), Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert), Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) and Scott Peters (D-San Diego), voted to block California’s high-speed rail project from receiving federal funds. On the federal level, U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently called for using rail bond money for facilities that would help the state in its next drought.