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Governor, Democratic lawmakers craft new water bond compromise

Proposed water bond compromise includes $2.5 billion for water storage

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders floated a $7.195 billion water bond compromise Monday, as the deadline to get a replacement measure on the ballot looms.

Brown and Democratic leaders have sought to revise the bond currently set to go before voters in November, which was written in 2009 and costs $11.1 billion -- a price tag Brown says is too high.

Brown had initially proposed a $6 billion alternative; members of both parties said that figure would not sufficiently address the state's water needs.

The plan, provided in outline form by legislative sources, would put $2.5 billion toward water storage -- half a billion dollars less than what is in the 2009 bond.

It would put $850 million toward groundwater sustainability -- a top Los Angeles priority -- and $87.5 million for ecosystem restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Funds going toward the delta have been closely scrutinized by environmental interests there, who have been concerned that such money could pave the way for the governor's controversial twin tunnel conveyance project.

Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), the Senate leader, declined to comment on the framework, but expressed optimism that a deal was imminent.

"I feel like the foundation is here to get this done this week," he said.

As negotiations continue, lawmakers are also considering Monday to renumber some ballot propositions to put the legislative-passed measures -- the rainy day fund and a potential new water bond -- at the top of the ballot.

They will also take up a bill to delay the printing of voter guide materials for two days, in hopes a new bond compromise will come together by Wednesday.

Peter DeMarco, spokesman for the Senate Republicans, cautioned that the deal is far from done. 

“This is a proposal, not a deal. A deal is announced when all parties agree to it, and we’re not there," DeMarco said. "That said, the governor finally provided details a couple hours ago on a water bond and we are reviewing them now.  Discussions continue among all stakeholders and we remain hopeful that a solution can be reached that works for all Californians."

melanie.mason@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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