Governor seeks delay on water bond

FRESNO, California

California Governor Jerry Brown's State of the State address had what sounded like good news for Valley farmers when he said: "Another huge issue we must tackle is water."

While on Wednesday the Governor went on about improving the state's water system, he wasn't talking about improvements that were on the list to be paid for with the water bond. Thursday he said the bond should be put off another two years.

Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League thinks that is a mistake: "I think it's a very bad call on the Governor."

Cunha of thinks the voters are ready to approve a water bond. "If presented correctly about the bond and its merits I believe the public would support that."

The bond would fund projects all over the state, including a dam at Temperance Flats, above Millerton Lake. But, the November ballot could include the Governor's tax increase proposal, and several other measures. Gayle Holman, of the Westlands Water District says the water bond might have better luck passing later.

"We're hearing there are a number of ballot measures that are coming before the voters and it's looking quite crowded," said Holman. "So, delaying it out another two years is what we are possibly hearing You know, we're okay with that."

It will be up to the state legislature whether to delay the vote. Democrat Henry Perea of Fresno says polls need to be taken to see how the voters feel. "If it shows there is public support for the water bond to move forward in 2012 then I think we should, but if the polls come back saying the public is not interested then I think we need to take a hard look as to whether it should move forward or whether we should punt it to 2014."

As it stands now, the water bond is headed for the ballot. It will take a 2/3rds majority of the legislature to take it off. But most Democrats are likely to follow the Governor's call, and while local Republicans generally support the water bond, others around the state are opposed to any additional government spending and may agree to take water off the ballot this year.

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