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Ray Haynes

Ray Haynes served in the California legislature from 1992 through 2006.


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When Words Don't Mean What We Think They Mean


by Ray Haynes - State Capitol (bio) (email)

7-24-2008 7:37 am

Jon asked me to comment on the debate over the "water" bond currently being proposed in the Legislature.  Since there really is no water bond being proposed, the debate is a false one.  We are already in a water crisis it is true.  Democrats have done nothing to alleviate that crisis since sometime in Jerry Brown administration in the 70's, that is true as well.  About 6 bonds have passed since 1996 claiming to be water bonds, and they got Republican votes to get on the ballot because somewhere in the language of the bond, someone wrote the word water.  Not one ounce of new water was created by any of those bonds, and not ounce of water will be created by the currently proposed bond.  Simply calling a bond a "water" bond does not make it so.  California needs new water, California needs it now, and nothing is being done about it, not by the administration, not by the Democrats, and not by those Republicans who insist that we have a "water" bond that doesn't create an ounce of water.

Let's start with a critical premise.  A water bond that has above ground storage can be a revenue bond (which does not require a vote of the people), because the water sales created by that storage will pay for the bond.  It is sort of like borrowing the money to invest in a new machine to expand your operations.  The increased revenue justifies the borrowing, and no real taxpayer funds are at risk.

It also follows that any general obligation bond, which does require a vote of the people, will not have any revenue to pay it off, other than taxes paid, and therefore creates no new water sales, and no new water.  It is not, therefore, a water bond, should not be called a water bond, and a vote for it cannot be justified by claiming we are in the middle of a water crisis, and we need more water.  if it cannot be paid by new water sales, it is creating no new water.  It is just that simple.

Witness the past.  In 1996, there was a $400 million dollar "water" general obligation bond put on the ballot intended to be the first step in creating new water supplies by "fixing" the delta.  It became an environmentalist christmas tree, filled with environmental ornaments that did a lot to stop growth and development, but not one single ounce of new water was created.  The same with the water bonds in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.  Over $10 billion for environmental projects from places like Downtown Los Angeles to remote desert "nature" areas.  Mostly, the money was used by enviros to buy land specifically designed to stop development throughout California.  No new water was created, and, despite billions being spent, our water crisis has deepened.

It is not necessary to oppose this bond in order to make the crisis worse  "so as to get real reform."  The crisis is already bad, and real reform is not coming because Republicans keep giving Democrats everything they want, and getting nothing in return.  This bond should be opposed because it the same old Sacramento response to a huge people crisis.  It will protect rats and weeds, and not create one ounce of water for people. 

How can Republicans guess if a bond is a water bond?  If it is a general obligation bond, it is not a water bond.  To call a g.o. bond a way of solving the water crisis is deceptive marketing, and it ought to be opposed on that grounds alone.  A revenue bond paid for by above ground storage water supplies is the only real solution, the only real water bond, everything else is just an environmental boondoggle, and ought to be opposed on that grounds alone.

I wish my car was a Rolls Royce, but simply putting a Rolls Royce logo on a Yugo does not create a Rolls Royce.  Simply using the word "Water" somewhere in the bond does not make it a water bond.  The test of a real water bond is whether it is a revenue bond or not.  If it creates new water, that water can be sold, and it therefore can be financed by a revenue bond.  That is the only bond Republicans should support.  That is the only real water bond.

[Care to comment on Senator Haynes' post?  You can do so on its mirror-entry on the FR Blog]

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