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In rare campaign email, Gov. Jerry Brown pitches $6-billion water bond

Brown says the cost of the 2009 bond, currently on the ballot, is "beyond what's reasonable or affordable"

Seeking to balance the state's water needs with his reputation for fiscal caution, Gov. Jerry Brown called for a "no-frills, no pork" $6-billion water bond in an email to campaign supporters Tuesday afternoon.

Brown kicked off the letter by noting that "drought conditions in California grow more serious by the day," and acknowledging more must be done for the state's water infrastructure.

But, he says, the $11.1-billion bond currently set to go before voters in November has "a price tag beyond what’s reasonable or affordable." He describes the measure, originally written in 2009, as "pork-laden."

Instead, Brown pitches a $6-billion plan similar to the framework his office circulated in June. The propopsal, he says, "invests in the most critical projects without breaking the bank."

In the email, Brown makes no mention of current efforts by lawmakers to craft an alternative plan for the November ballot. Many lawmakers, mostly Democrats, have agreed with Brown that the 2009 bond is too bloated, but legislators have bristled at Brown's pared-down $6-billion plan. 

The clock is ticking. Negotiators are trying to roll out a compromise bond before Aug. 11, when the secretary of state's office begins printing materials to go to the voters.

Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), one of the lead legislators on the issue, said "it is good to see the governor strongly engage in this discussion," and agreed with his disapproval for the 2009 bond. But, she said, Brown's proposal was "critically low" on groundwater treatment, which has also been a top priority for L.A.-area lawmakers.

Republicans also said they wanted more, particularly on water storage. Brown's plan allocates $2 billion for dams and reservoirs; the 2009 measure would put $3 billion toward storage.

Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) tweeted Brown's proposal is "a half-empty proposal that fails to provide Californians with the water storage they need."

Tuesday's email marks only the third time Brown has reached out to supporters through his campaign e-mail list. The campaign previously sent e-mails announcing the governor's re-election bid and urging people to vote in the June 3 primary.

"Doing it through the [campaign] website offered the chance to communicate directly with the people of California on a topic important to the future of the state," said Jim Evans, a spokesman for Brown.

Times staff writer Seema Mehta contributed to this report.

Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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