California voters passed a pair of ballot propositions that were touted by Gov. Jerry Brown as essential to the state's fiscal future.
The governor, re-elected to a record fourth term Tuesday, campaigned heavily for Props 1 and 2 in the runup to the midterm. The measures faced little opposition -- Prop 1, a water system bond, passed with 67 percent of the vote; Prop 2, which provides money for a "rainy day" fund, garnered 69 percent of the vote.
In his re-election victory speech Tuesday night, Brown mentioned Props 1 and 2 as being vital to his goals as governor.
"Save money, save water, those are two pillars," Brown said.
Proposition 1, a nearly $7.6 billion bond measure placed on the ballot by the Legislature, will fund state water supply infrastructure projects, including surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration and drinking water protection. Drought-stricken California just finished a third-consecutive dry year and faces what forecasters expect to be a warm winter during which dry conditions are likely to intensify or persist.
Brown declared a drought emergency in January as decreased snowpack in the Sierras, a vital source of water for the state, and critically low reservoir levels led to farmers fallowing fields in the Central Valley region and mandatory water restrictions. The next month, lawmakers fast-tracked legislation a bond funding for public works projects that Brown said will help the state better prepare for future droughts.
"The world looks pretty troubled out there," Brown said Tuesday night. "The country is facing a lot of uncertainty, but here in California, where once they called this a failed state, we're now showing the way. We're showing the way in our commitment to building an adequate water supply, building a rainy day fund, living within our means and doing the kind of things that a great state should do and certainly can do."
The water bond funds are part of work that Brown said began when he was first governor of Calfiornia, from 1975 to 1983. Those terms also happened to be during the the state's last major drought, a problem that Brown referred to as "work for a four-term governor."
Brown has said the $7.5 million provided by the measure for water insfrastructure improvements and conservation efforts will not be nearly enough for significant, long-term solutions. Brown said long-term solutions will require "tens of billions of dollars" invested over a decade or more.
The Brown administration has a 10-point list of water goals, which include promoting conservation, restoring ecosystems, expanding storage capacity, improving groundwater management, increasing flood protection and making regulations more efficient. Brown's father, former Gov. Pat Brown, ushered in the State Water Project in 1959, an extensive system of reservoirs and canals that was considered an engineering marvel in its day.
Brown reported spending $13.5 million in October to support the water bond measure and Proposition 2, popularly known as the "rainy day fund." Prop 2 will make changes to the state's reserve accounts, requiring the state to annually transfer 1.5 percent of its general fund revenues into the "budget stabilization account."
When he took office for his previous term, Brown sounded a theme of fiscal restraint and announced supporting the rainy day fund would be one of his goals. Prop 2 also requires the transfer of capital gains tax revenues that exceed 8 percent of the general fund."