Water bond grows, but does it have the votes?

Water bond proposal grows to $7.5 billion, but unclear if Republicans are on board

Late night negotiations Tuesday added hundreds of millions of dollars to Gov. Jerry Brown's latest water bond proposal, but it remained unclear Wednesday morning whether the new offer would earn sufficient Republican support to pass the Legislature.

According to legislative sources who were not authorized to speak publicly, Brown and Democratic leaders have agreed to bump up the proposed borrowing for water projects to $7.545 billion-- $350 million more than the governor accepted earlier this week. 

The bulk of that increase–$200 million–would go toward storage projects such as dams and reservoirs, bringing the total funding for storage to $2.7 billion. The rest would go to water quality and supply projects, such as cleaning up drinking water.

Democrats are hoping the boost for storage – long a GOP sticking point  – will attract Republican support, but Republicans have been standing by their call for $3 billion for storage.

Peter DeMarco, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans, said that the caucus is waiting to see the specifics of the latest proposal.

"We hope to have an opportunity to read the details," he said. "We're hopeful that progress can continue to be made.”

Also worth watching: how liberal Democrats respond to the proposed increase in money for storage. Environmentalists are cool to above-ground projects and may bristle at more money for it. Both houses plan to begin debate on the bond measure this afternoon.  A $11.1 billion borrowing proposal is already on the November ballot; lawmakers have been trying to reduce it before it goes to voters.

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