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Governor Brown and the California legislature agree on $1 billion drought aid package

KCBX News - Randol White

California Governor Jerry Brown and the California legislature announced Thursday an agreement on plans for more than $1 billion in emergency drought aid, including money for water recycling projects, water quality measures, and flood protection plans.

The governor did not however call for any mandatory statewide rationing.

This is the second year of emergency drought aid, but the governor's office says the state has only spent a little more than half of last year's $870 million. 

Central Coast AssemblymemberKatchoAchadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) said Thursday that Republicans were not part of the drought aid process initially, but are now and he likes what he's seen. He said at this point the drought is not an issue of party preference.

"It's not a Republican district or a Democratic district, it's the people that count," said Achadjian. "With this money we can do a lot to help them out."

Achadjian said he believes mandatory rationing should be instituted on a local level, where local leaders understand the problems affecting the various communities. He does not believe it should be dictated statewide.

Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria) announced his support for the plan on Thursday morning. He said the drought package will help expedite Proposition 1 bond funding approved by voters in November.

“Let’s be clear, this package won’t solve the drought,” Williams said in a press statement. “But it does provide critical emergency water and food services and gets a start on big projects – such as water recycling – which secures local water supply reliability.”

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) said she believes the drought negotiations are an important step to help a "thirsty state" dealing with a "serious climate challenge."

“I’m very pleased to see action being taken [Thursday] by the Governor and our legislative leaders to help get funding to communities who are in real need of assistance during this drought," said Jackson in a statement emailed to KCBX. "This drought is very serious, and will continue to affect all of us – our economy, our communities -- if we continue without significant rainfall. Getting through this crisis is going to take conservation, creativity, and all of us working together."

Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) also expressed support for the plan through his office. 

The next step is for public hearings to take place on March 25, followed by a final floor vote in both houses of the legislature.