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Critics of Calif. Revenue Bond Initiative Warn Of Unintended Consequences

USFWS Pacific Southwest Region / Flickr
 

USFWS Pacific Southwest Region / Flickr

California elected officials say a ballot initiative that would require approval of revenue bonds over $2 billion could drive up the cost of future bonds.

Lawmakers held a hearing Wednesday to examine the measure, which is eligible for the November 2016 ballot.

The initiative, sponsored by wealthy Stockton-area farmer Dean Cortopassi, is widely seen as an attempt to derail the Brown Administration’s Delta Tunnel project, which would be funded by revenue bonds.

State Treasurer John Chiang says vague wording means the initiative could also apply to bonds for bridge and road repair, disaster recovery and University of California campuses.

He says future bond issues would inevitably end up in court.

"So the pricing becomes more undetermined," Chiang says. "At the end of the day, it probably increases the cost to the taxpayers of California."

Initiative author, attorney Kurt Oneto, says the worries are overblown.

"It’s going to be a small number of projects that really have statewide significance, that affect millions of people based on the cost," Oneto says.

The state’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst agrees only a small number of projects would likely be affected, and also that the repercussions are uncertain.