Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wolk: Water bond needs to be defeated, now

By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | June 30, 2010 14:42

ta_water%20copy.jpgA UC Davis researcher fishes for large-mouth bass as part
of a study in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta last year. The delta was the
main topic at the Solano Economic Development Corp. breakfast Wednesday
morning. Photo by Mike Greener

FAIRFIELD - State Sen. Lois Wolk wants the $11 billion state water bond
measure to remain on the November ballot, but only because she believes it
will be defeated.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and leaders in the Legislature are talking of
removing the bond from the ballot until 2012. Wolk sees this as a sign the
bond is in trouble.

'I want to vote on that bond in November because I know it will be defeated
and I want to put an end to it,' Wolk, D-Davis, said Wednesday.

Wolk spoke about Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta issues at the Solano Economic
Development Corp. breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The Delta includes Solano County near Rio Vista. It provides water to 25
million Californians, contains farmland and valuable habitat and has small
communities. The state is looking for ways to keep the water flowing to
distant cities while at the same time improving an ecosystem that faces many
challenges. The water bill is billed by supporters as part of the solution.

Wolk said the water bond grew from $8 billion to $11 billion within a few
hours in the early morning hours when it was put together. Unlike good wine,
the pork included in the bond measure wouldn't age well if the measure is
delayed until 2012, she said.

Plus, the bond would add to the state's debt, she said. The debt service is
approaching 10 percent of the state's budget and that's money that has first
call on the general fund ahead of education, transportation, health and
social services and other state services, she said.

'We have enough debt in California,' Wolk said. 'It's unconscionable. We
can't afford it.'

The bond doesn't get to the heart of the Delta's problems, Wolk said. The
state is asking the Delta to do too many things, she said.

'To save the Delta, Southern California and the Bay Area need to reduce
their reliance on the Delta,' Wolk said. 'Reducing reliance on the Delta is
the key -- not more water coming out of the Delta, but less.'

California needs to look more at such water sources as recycling,
desalinization and cleaning up the millions of acre-feet of polluted
groundwater in Southern California, Wolk said.

During a question-and-answer period, Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan
asked when the state will pass a budget.

Wolk said talk of closing the $20 billion gap centers on cuts, more revenue
and borrowing. But Wolk said that revenue increases are unlikely to happen
during an election year, that there will be cuts but not enough and that she
is among those who opposes borrowing.

'I don't see the architecture for doing any of that right now,' Wolk said.

The pressure for the state do something about the budget will come when
money is running out, Wolk said. That won't happen until August, she said.

She would like to see such reforms as having performance measures tied to
spending. Every program needs to be justified, Wolk said. She would address
the budget shortfall through a balance of revenues and cuts, she said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, ext. 232, or