SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday delivered dual messages in his annual address to the Legislature: California’s resurgence is well underway but is threatened by economic and environmental uncertainties.
Chief among those uncertainties is that the severe drought gripping the nation’s most populous state and already forcing water cutbacks among farms and cities eventually could exact a financial toll on the state’s improving finances.
In the State of the State address, Brown said it was not clear what role heat-trapping gases have played in creating three years of dry weather, but he said the excessively dry conditions should serve “as a stark warning of things to come.”
“This means more droughts and more extreme weather events, and, in California, more forest fires and less snow pack,” he said, a week after declaring an official drought.
He urged conservation among the state’s 38 million residents and said water recycling, expanded storage and better management of groundwater supplies will be needed. The state’s budget reserves will be tested if the wildfire season explodes and communities run short of water and need emergency help.
Some relief could come from an $11.1 billion water bond scheduled to go before voters in November, but the measure is filled with problems, including the price tag. Lawmakers have delayed it twice and are considering major changes, including lowering the price.
The current version has been criticized for including too many unessential, special interest projects and for not guaranteeing money for building dams to create new reservoirs.