As the senate bill promising to create one new all-encompassing water district for the Santa Clarita Valley heads towards the finish line of final approval in Sacramento, the California Democratic Party has come out against the historic bill in the 11th hour.
“The California Democratic Party Executive Board, after much deliberation, has voted to oppose Senate Bill 634,” stated a letter sent Monday to Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon by Eric C. Bauman, chair of the California Democratic Party.
The main reason behind the vote of non-support is a fear the bill robs SCV ratepayers of input on key decision-making and that it reduces transparency.
“Our legislation committee voted to oppose the bill out of concern that it will reduce transparency and the ability for the public to have input in deliberations,” CDP spokesman John Vigna told The Signal Monday.
On Sept. 1, the water bill cleared its biggest hurdle when it passed through the Assembly Appropriations Committee, now headed for the Assembly floor for its final vote.
If Senate Bill 634 passes, Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District would dissolve into the new agency.
Offering only a brief explanation for their decision to oppose the bill, Bauman says in his letter that SB 634 runs afoul of the party’s core values.
“We believe California is a leader for the rest of the nation and sets an example of how to create and implement progressive policies,” Bauman says in his letter.
“SB 634, the New Water Agency Bill, does not reflect the California Democratic Party’s core values of leadership and progression, and will hinder California’s continuous path towards improvement.”
The CDP holds super-majorities in both chambers of the California State Legislature.
One of the considerations weighed by members of the Appropriations Committee which reviewed the bill late last month, was that it would cost at least $150,000 to implement. In light of that, the bill was placed in the Suspense File.
Committee members learned through a breakdown of costs measured by consultants that the bill would result in an “unknown loss of income tax revenues, potentially in the low hundreds of thousands (dollars) annually beginning in 2018-19.”
For more than a year, officials with the Castaic Lake Water Agency and the Newhall County Water District – SCV’s water wholesaler and one of its four local water retailers, respectively – have been hammering out details of a merger, eliciting input from the public at four public meetings.
In December, both the CLWA and NCWD signed a settlement agreement calling for legislation to be drafted and submitted.
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