California lawmakers are back from their summer break and facing pressure to craft a deal on a new water bond. But time is running short.
Legislative Democrats and Governor Jerry Brown want to replace the $11 billion bond currently on the November ballot with a smaller bond. Senate President Darrell Steinberg says the exact amount is still up for debate.
"Look, the governor said $6 billion. We’re at $7.5 billion as the Senate. The Assembly was a little bit higher," he says.
Another big sticking point: which state agency will manage the restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem.
“If we don’t solve how to construct the Delta language, and how to come to a compromise on the amount of surface storage and the overall amount of the bond, then we don’t get to all the good stuff that everybody agrees on," Steinberg says.
That “good stuff” includes investing in clean drinking water and conservation measures and managing ground water.
But Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff says the points of disagreement are the thorniest issues of the bond.
“If it was easy we would have been able to put something to bed a long time ago. But certainly it’s not an easy process," he says. "It was a pretty painful and lengthy process back in 2009 when we constructed the one that’s currently schedule for the ballot. We’ll see what happens.”
Huff says his caucus would support a smaller bond, but says they’re comfortable with the current bond if a deal can’t be reached.
Democratic leaders say they believe they have until the end of next week to come up with a final proposal.