California had a few interesting outcomes from the elections a couple of weeks ago, when it comes to water. Most of these were local ballot initiatives, like the “Restore Hetch Hetchy” proposition I’ve talked about before. But one that’s a little more subtle is that the state legislature will have a Democratic supermajority to accompany Democratic governor Jerry Brown’s agenda for the next 2 years. Brown is a moderate Democrat, so he won’t necessarily appeal to all Democrats, but he has set five near-term priorities:
- Calibrating state rules and regulations so they don’t discourage job creation and economic development
- Continuing work on the state’s high-speed rail project
- Evaluating the state’s education framework
- Delivering a budget to the Legislature in January
- Securing water reliability for the state
That last one is pretty interesting, considering that Gov. Brown has already issued the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, to build two massive tunnels to make deliveries to the Central Valley and Southern California more reliable. Plus, remember that huge ballot initiative to spend $11 billion on improving water resources across the state, the one that was shelved so Gov. Brown’s education proposition would have more likelihood of success? Well, the Democrats could pass it now, to the chagrin of small-government Republicans across the state (but on that note, if you’re a small-government Republican — let’s be honest — you live in the wrong state).
The state legislative analyst recently projected lower budget deficits and future budget surpluses for the state, a first in a long time. You know what legislators, especially big spenders, will want to do with budget surpluses? Spend them! Let’s hope that Gov. Brown’s priorities lead to wise spending on projects that the state needs (and you can guess which issues I’m biased towards…).