Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown preparing to engage in 2016 ballot measure fight

Gov. Jerry Brown arrives at Charles de Gaulle Airport, outside of Paris, on Dec. 10, 2015.
Gov. Jerry Brown arrives at Charles de Gaulle Airport, outside of Paris, on Dec. 10, 2015. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

Gov. Jerry Brown said Thursday he is considering placing a measure on the 2016 ballot, possibly related to climate change, or engaging in an effort to defeat a threat to his Delta water project.

“There’s a few things which I’m not ready to lay out for what we do,” he said. “We’re going to do something.”

The Democratic governor holds about $24 million in two campaign accounts and is in his final term. The November election in a presidential year offers a likely favorable Democratic voter turnout.

Brown said, “It’s a good election year,” adding that his administration still has “a lot of authority.”

A wealthy Stockton-area farmer and food processor, Dean Cortopassi, has qualified a ballot measure that could complicate or stop Brown’s plan to build two tunnels to divert water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the south. Brown suggested he will have to address that challenge, though he did not specify how.

“There are some things we’re looking at,” he said. “I’m not ready to talk about it yet.”

The $15.5 billion tunnels project, a priority of Brown’s, has faced a barrage of criticism from Delta landowners, Northern Californians and many environmentalists. Brown, who has been seeking to build a conveyance since he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, has said it is necessary to stabilize water deliveries to millions of Californians and to restore the Delta’s ecosystem.

The prospect of financing is unclear, with several downstream water agencies that would pay for the project raising concerns about its cost and the reliability of water deliveries.

Asked if he has a backup plan, Brown said, “I don’t think there is a Plan B.”

He said, “This is a project that is necessary.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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