Lots of Californians will be hurt by cuts in this year’s State Budget, but lawmakers found a little something for struggling water contractors.
The Budget includes “75 new positions to perform preliminary engineering and design work for the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program.” In other words, taxpayers, not beneficiaries (water contractors), are paying the salaries of the state employees who are designing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and the tunnels.
The Budget also includes a $10 million continuous appropriation from the Harbors and Watercraft revolving fund to fund the state’s obligations under the Davis-Dolwig Act. That’s an act passed by voters in 1961 and implemented by the Department of Water Resources (DWR). It relates to the cost of fish and wildlife enhancements and recreation for State Water Project facilities.
Who should pay for what – SWP contractors or the General Fund – has been a matter of controversy for a long time. This year, there isn’t any money in the General Fund, so it looks like they found some in a fund that comes from gas taxes on boaters.
It is ironic when we consider the number of times we have heard water contractors say in testimony to California legislators that they are paying for the planning and will pay for the construction of the BDCP. (Design must be separate from planning.)
It is even sadder to think that the state is spending money to help the water barons while nearly a million children are slated to lose their health benefits and California education continues to be gutted.
Click here to read the DWR Budget summary.