Late last week, Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-26th District-Visalia) introduced a bipartisan amendment to the California Constitution for use of the state’s general fund budget for the rebuilding and enhancing of the state’s water infrastructure. Coauthored with Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-56th District-Coachella) the amendment targets a stable, ongoing source of funding for projects to improve California’s water quality, supply and delivery systems. Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 3 is similar to a proposal introduced by Mathis and Garcia in 2018.
“I’m absolutely floored that California has billions to throw away on wasteful projects like High-Speed Rail, but people are still talking about a water tax,” said Mathis. “We don’t need new taxes. We need a commitment to invest in our infrastructure, and that’s exactly what this plan will do.”
Although the California Constitution provides that state revenues first set apart the moneys to be applied by the state for support of the public-school system and public institutions of higher education, but there is no such provision for water. Mathis and Garcia’s proposal would earmark two percent of specified state revenues to be set apart for the payment of principal and interest on bonds authorized pursuant to the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014; water supply, delivery, and quality projects administered by the water department; and, water quality projects administered by the state board.
ACA 3 is currently waiting for a referral to the fiscal policy committee. If it is approved by the committee it will require a two-thirds vote of each house before it becomes law.
The water funds required by this amendment would be allocated to:
- Provide five percent for the payment of the principal and interest on bonds authorized to the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014
- Of the remaining two percent each year –
- Sixty percent will be 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 will be 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.
Mathis, who was previously a sergeant in the Army National Guard and served two tours in Iraq, spoke further on the state of California’s water saying, “It saddens me that California, one of the largest economies in the word, has worse water conditions than the war zones I was deployed too. To me, water is the most basic human need and it sickens me that California is willing to tax the already hurting working families for ‘Clean’ drinking water. My bipartisan plan, ACA 3, will provide more monies than any tax could ever generate and guarantee clean, safe, and affordable drinking water for generation of Californians to come.”