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June 11, 2015

Budget Proposal to Raise Water Right Fees by $4.1 Million Halted

Western Growers successfully led a coalition of agricultural organizations in stopping the administration’s proposal to increase water rights fees by $4.1 million to pay for the completion of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan.  This proposal would have resulted in a significant increase in water rights fees especially for growers in the Imperial Valley and on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Resources agreed with our position that the new funding should come from the General Fund rather than from water rights holders; however, the Senate Subcommittee approved the governor’s proposal without changes so the item was heard in the Budget Conference Committee Tuesday evening.

Budget Conference Committee members, Senators Leno, Lara, Nielsen and Assemblymembers Weber, Bloom and Melendez discussed the item and Senator Lara moved the Assembly version.  The vote was unanimous. 

WG appreciates the work of several legislators whose efforts were critical in this debate.  Assemblymembers Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) were instrumental in the budget subcommittee.  The Central Valley Caucus, led by Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) and Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), weighed in with a letter to the Conference Committee. Senators Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) and Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) advocated for our position as well.  Finally, WG is thankful for the support of Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) for her support of our position. 

Since things can change at any moment in the budget process, we will remain vigilant.  The legislature must pass the budget by June 15 and the Governor must sign it by July 1.

Please contact Gail Delihant at (916) 446-1435 if you have any questions.