Water Board Budget Debate

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 2, 2010 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The State Water Resources Control Board (WRCB) is proposing a budget that would back them out of reliance on the State’s General Fund.  A coalition of water agencies and agricultural and industry groups have taken issue with that approach maintaining that the Board could raise fees without public oversight.  Much of the Board’s programs also serve the public’s interests.  The $6 million budget increase should not be borne solely by permit holders but by the General Fund as well.

The coalition argue that inclusion of General Fund financing ensures that the Legislature will have will have the opportunity to provide oversight and examine programs carefully during the annual budget policy hearings.  “These open committee hearings enable stakeholders and the public to participate and provide comment on proposed fee increases.  Once a water quality or water rights program fund ceases to receive General Fund dollars, WRCB can raise existing fees administratively.”

At a Senate Budget Subcommittee meeting on March 18th, committee chairman Joe Simitian said the coalition comments reflect a legitimate debate about when the public benefits, when there is private benefit and when there is a shared benefit. A vote on the issue was tabled until a future hearing.

Environmentalists at the hearing argued in support of the WRCB proposal based on the polluter pay concept.

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