Remarks by the Senate Leader on Emergency Drought Legislation

Thursday, March 19, 2015

SACRAMENTO – California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) delivered the following remarks today, Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. hen he along with Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.,  Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen announced emergency drought legislation:

I am honored to join our Governor, Speaker Atkins and Republican leaders Huff and Olsen here this morning.

There is no greater crisis facing our state today that its lack of water.

It is an economic crisis because our farms and factories need water to create jobs and supply the world’s food and products.

It is an environmental crisis because our snow pack is lower than ever before in recorded history. Our rivers and streams are dry, and our natural resources are shriveling up.

It’s a public health crisis because tens of thousands of people are without clean drinking water and that number is increasing.

Our state budget is written in the winter before the legislature convenes in January.  It’s now almost Spring and we now know we have had almost NO rain this year.

NASA is now estimating we have one year of water supply left, creating a renewed sense of urgency.  

We cannot wait until June when the budget passes to start directing funds. We definitely cannot wait for Washington to help, Congress hasn’t pitched in a penny.

That is why the Governor, Speaker, our Republican colleagues and I are here today to announce an emergency drought and water supply reliability package.

We need to act now.

Our package is two bills—one an appropriations bill, the other a policy bill.

The first bill appropriates over a billion dollars in Proposition 1 (water bond) and Proposition 1-E (flood protection bond). These were funds the voters approved for water and flood related investments. 

We need to get the money out the door now for shovel-ready projects and existing water programs that only need funding to get started.  No delay.  No red tape.

The second bill speeds up contracting for funds, creates a first-of –its-kind office to help disproportionately impacted communities respond to their water challenges and access state resources.

Taken together, this package provides a major boost to our state’s efforts to manage our water crisis and strengthen our infrastructure.

I want to thank the Governor and the Speaker for working together to respond to this crisis.  It shows how we—as leaders--can get things done when we all work together in common purpose.

I also want to thank my colleagues in the Senate who have been involved in this from its inception—particularly Senators Wolk and Pavley who are on our budget subcommittee that oversees water and flood funds.  I also want to thank Senator Galgiani for her tireless work to get funds for her heavily impacted district.

Finally, I want to note this is just a down payment on our efforts to address the drought. This is just the first round.

We have much more work to do.

The Governor has asked us to approve additional flood and water funds later in the budget cycle.  We will do that.

You can bet we will be back here with sleeves rolled up to do more to help Californians through this crisis. And that includes tackling the long-term challenges of climate change.

We will ensure our state government is on the job full time to use all the tools at its disposal to help our state through this drought.

Thank you.