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Legislature must decide whether Proposition 18 stays on the ballot

August 4, 2010 | 11:59 am

If the Nov. 2 election were high school and all of the qualified propositions on the ballot were students, Proposition 18 would be the kid eating by himself in the cafeteria.

Proposition 18, California's  $11-billion water bond, is intended to ensure the safety of the state's drinking water, meet residents' water supply needs, protect wildlife and reduce polluted runoff. You can check out the legislative analysis of the bill here.

Supporters call the measure  an essential step toward solving the problems facing our water system and environment. Opponents argue that Proposition 18 is a "pork measure that gives billions of dollars to special interests and bureaucrats."

In the past, The Times argued that although there may be a lot of pork in the measure, it represents a necessary step forward.

Celebrities have begun coming out against the measure. Calitics reported that actors David DeLuise of "Wizards of Waverly Place," Justine Bateman of "Family Ties," "Californication" and "Desperate Housewives," Kelly Williams of "Lie to Me," "The Practice" and "Scrubs" and Anna Belknap of 'CSI: NY" have all gone public with their opposition to the measure. 

But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that because it is crucial the measure passes, he wants to delay the vote and wait until political resistance dies down to ensure its passage. That idea doesn't seem too far-fetched: A Tulchin poll taken in January showed opposition to the measure at 55%, but a more recent Field poll taken in July showed opposition at only 32% (even though there were a large portion of voters who were unfamiliar with the measure altogether).

But if Schwarzenegger wants to see his plans come to fruition, the Legislature will have to act -- and quick. Schwarzenegger will need a two-thirds vote by mid-August to get the proposition off the ballot.

The governor's desire to delay voting for the measure also stems from the effects the state's budget crisis might have on voter mentality. A Bakersfield Californian editorial argues that voters are reluctant to approve of a measure so costly, especially in the throes of the greatest economic downturn since the Depression. 

Jeff Macedo, deputy press secretary at Schwarzenegger's office, said the governor was confident the proposition will be moved to the 2012 ballot. Macedo said the governor currently has no backup plan, but if the Legislature opts to keep the measure on the ballot, Macedo said the governor would "cross that bridge when he comes to it."

Sen. Dave Cogdill (R-Fresno) issued a statement on June 29 stating that he was in favor of passing a water bond but that he was "willing to wait to bolster voter understanding of this critical measure."

-- Emilia Barrosse

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