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March 29, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: Western Growers Opposes “Cortopassi Initiative”

IRVINE, Calif. (March 29, 2016) – Statement by Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif announcing the decision of the Board of Directors to oppose the “Cortopassi Initiative,” which would require statewide voter approval before revenue bonds in excess of $2 billion can be issued to fund public infrastructure projects, including some local projects funded by ratepayers through joint powers authorities. 

“The Cortopassi Initiative would create a new avenue for opponents to try to block badly needed water supply projects and water infrastructure, including potentially Sites and Temperance Flat reservoirs. Most troubling, this project would require a statewide vote on some local projects funded entirely by local project users and ratepayers – empowering voters in distant parts of the state to block local decision-making and control.   

California voters overwhelmingly approved the 2014 water bond, which provides that the state will fund the public benefits of new dams and reservoirs, as long as local ratepayers who would benefit from additional water storage pay for their share. Local ratepayers have formed joint powers authorities to provide the private beneficiary funding needed to complete these projects.

Our members are facing an unprecedented array of difficult and harmful state and federal water policies, so we understand the temptation to turn to the initiative process for relief. However, the Cortopassi Initiative could undercut the heart of the 2014 water bond, which represents the one positive water policy for California agriculture in many years. Western Growers strongly opposes this ballot measure.”