Capitol Alert

Democrats seek $4 billion bond for water, flood control, parks

A Cal Fire firefighter, right, talks to workers on the Oroville Dam project in front of the dam spillway in Oroville, on Feb. 20, 2017.
A Cal Fire firefighter, right, talks to workers on the Oroville Dam project in front of the dam spillway in Oroville, on Feb. 20, 2017.

As torrential rains and dangerous floodwaters pummel large swaths of Texas and parts of Louisiana, California lawmakers are eying legislation to prevent similar damage from the state’s own disasters.

Senate Bill 5 from state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León would ask voters this upcoming June to approve a $4 billion bond to fund water, flood and parks projects across California.

To make it to the governor’s desk, it would need to clear the Assembly, where another water and open space bond from Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, is under debate.

De León has characterized the bond as critical following the state’s historic five-year drought, and the 2017 winter storms that marked the wettest water year for California in more than a century.

If passed, bond proceeds would fund flood and water infrastructure projects, and expand and improve local parks and open space. It would allocate $550 million for water projects, $750 million for flood control projects such as levee repair, and $2.6 billion for local and regional parks – including $800 million to build new parks in lower income communities. It would also fund deferred maintenance and other projects at California’s State Parks system, including construction of new trails, plant and wildlife habitat restoration, and coastal climate change adaptation projects.

It comes about three years after Proposition 1, a $7.12 billion bond approved by more than 67 percent of voters in November 2014. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs off, de León’s bond would go to voters in June. Brown, de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon are also behind a $4 billion bond for housing, which would go before voters in November 2018 if it clears the Legislature.

Lawmakers have until the legislative session ends Sept. 15 to send the measures to Brown’s desk.

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