Gov. Schwarzenegger calls special legislative session
Urges action on water plan and health care
SACRAMENTO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, urging action on
critical issues of water infrastructure and health care
reform, today called the Legislature into special sessions.
Schwarzenegger, concerned by a recent federal court ruling
that could cut water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta next year by as much as one-third, is urging action on
his $5.9 billion comprehensive water package. In addition to
pressing water issues, he also called the lawmakers to support
comprehensive health care reform.
"These issues are vital to our state and the quality of life
of all Californians," Schwarzenegger said in a news release.
"I have met with the legislative leaders and I have no doubt
that if we put in the extra time and effort - and if we have
the will - we can achieve the results that the people of
California expect and deserve."
After U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger ruled in Fresno
Aug. 31 to cut water exports to protect threatened Delta
smelt, Schwarzenegger said the decision "is further proof that
our water system is broken."
The delta, which supplies water for 25 million Californians
and 5 million acres of farmland, is the focus of a Delta
Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, which the Governor has charged
with developing a Delta management plan. Recommendations from
the group could come as early as next month.
Schwarzenegger's bond package, which stalled earlier this year
in the state Senate, would invest $4.5 billion in new surface
and groundwater storage, $1 billion for restoration of the
delta and other projects, and funds for conservation and delta
The prospect of reduced water supplies from the delta has
prompted urban water agencies to prepare mandatory water
conservation plans for 2008. Farmers, who depend on delta
water supplies, are scaling back their planting intentions for
Tim Quinn, executive director for the Association of
California Water Agencies, said last week at a Capitol news
conference, that the state is losing its ability to manage
dwindling water supplies.
"While the judge's decision will last a year, this crisis is
indefinite," Quinn said. "It will last until a comprehensive
program, such as the governor has recommended, including
conveyance fixes in the delta and until those physical changes
happen, we are going to be in a state of serious crisis in
managing the state's most important resource."
Schwarzenegger's call for a special session is also intended
to deal with health care reform. Democrats support Assembly
Bill 8, by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, which
would impose a tax on farmers, ranchers and other business
owners to fund health-care coverage for those who cannot
purchase coverage on their own.
Schwarzenegger has criticized that approach. He prefers reform
that gives employers the option of providing insurance or
paying into a state fund that would offer help to uninsured
workers who couldn't pay for their health care coverage.
In calling for the special session, Schwarzenegger said
"Californians cannot wait for reform."
Capital Press California Editor Bob Krauter is based in
Sacramento. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org