Bipartisan Bill Dedicates CA Budget Funds to Much-Needed Water Projects
CA Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) has introduced a bipartisan amendment to the California Constitution to dedicate two percent of the state’s General Fund budget annually to rebuilding and enhancing the state’s water infrastructure beginning with the 2021-22 fiscal year.
The funding mechanism would be similar to the state’s set aside of money for public education in the annual budget. The proposal, Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 3 which Mathis coauthored with Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), will provide a stable, ongoing source of funding for projects to improve California’s water quality, supply and delivery systems.
The new water funds required by ACA 3 would be used finance important water infrastructure projects as well as pay down the state’s water bond. Five percent would be allocated for the payment of principal and interest on bonds authorized to the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. The remaining funds would then be split between the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board on a 60/40 ratio:
- Sixty percent allocated to the Department of Water Resources for water supply, delivery, and quality projects, including recycled water projects, water conveyance projects, groundwater recharge projects, subsidence abatement projects and water infrastructure and storage projects.
- Forty percent allocated to the State Water Resources Control Board for water quality projects, including drinking water improvement projects, groundwater cleanup projects and emergency drinking water projects.
New water supply and population growth is the biggest concern of Assemblyman Mathis. The state’s water infrastructure and supply mechanisms have fallen behind population growth trends, Mathis said. With the state’s population projected to reach 50 million residents by 2050, there will be a severe water supply shortage due to deteriorating systems and a need for more reliable funding sources, he explained.
“We need a commitment to invest in our infrastructure, and that’s exactly what this plan will do,” Mathis said. “This is 2 percent of the General Fund – over $4 billion annually. Think of the jobs created building dams and canals, and other needed projects.”
“California needs a permanent fix to our continued severe financial shortages in water funding; shortages that have resulted in the delaying of vital water projects. ACA 3 will provide the necessary framework to ensure that future generations will never have to deal with these annual crises. We must act now to ensure that access to clean and safe drinking water is a guarantee for all,” he said.
ACA 3 is currently waiting for referral to the fiscal policy committee. If approved by the committee, it will require a two-thirds vote of each house before it becomes law.