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Does High-speed Rail Trump Water Storage ?

Sacramento, CA — Thursday two state Republican lawmakers moved on a voter initiative that seeks to create long-term water storage while helping fold Governor Jerry Brown’s high-speed rail project.

Board of Equalization member George Runner and Sen. Bob Huff of San Dimas seek voters’ support in redirecting about $8 billion in bond money towards building water storage. According to Runner, “[The initiative] asks voters to take a look at the high-speed rail and last year’s water bond…basically, putting them together for a new infastructure water investment.” He stresses there are no new taxes or new bonds involved, only a “re-prioritization.”

The initiative would additionally authorize shifting $2.7 billion in unspent water bond funds towards water storage construction and amend the state constitution in order to give drinking water and irrigation priority from the state’s limited water supplies.

Even with a wet winter, Runner states, “There are going to be drought cycles and we are not ready for them. California has water infastructure issues…that are 50 years old…and California has doubled the population…yet we have not kept up with what it is that we need to do to move water around and collect water.” He adds that the cost of the high-speed rail has nearly tripled from what voters were told that it was going to cost.

So now, Runner says, “The real question then is, it is just like a family, is it time to reorganize your priorities, and that is really what we are asking voters to do with this initiative.”