Jerry Brown’s Drought Bill Leaves Farmers Dry, Quenches Thirst of Special Interests

global warming
AP/Paul Sakuma

One might think that not even a climate change devotee like Jerry Brown could justify spending two-thirds of a 1.1 $billion drought relief fund on flood control.

Yet, that is what the governor plans on doing, reported the Wall Street Journal. Climate change makes “extreme weather events” more probable Brown contends. “All of a sudden, when you’re all focused on drought, you can get massive storms that flood through these channels and overflow and cause havoc,” he explained last week to lawmakers from the Golden State.

This contorted logic, the Journal correctly points out, demonstrates that “any crisis, real or invented, becomes a pretext to spend.” However, it is more than just finding another reason to spend tax payer funds. It is deceptive to allocate money  for the purpose of offering “direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions,” and then spend it on flood control.

Not surprisingly, the deception provides an opportunity for Brown and his cohorts in Sacramento to circumvent the fact that the bonds that voters approved in 2006 for flood protection expire next year. Once the legislature appropriates the funds for their projects they have until 2020 to decide how to spend it.

Of the $1.1 billion Drought Relief funds, only $40 million of that would bring emergency drinking water and food assistance for those who need it the most. The measure would give $30 million to green businesses specializing in water-efficiency projects that reduce greenhouse gases.

Moreover, the Santa Cruz Sentinel,  reported that the emergency drought legislation offers little relief for drought victims. The new proposal provides “$24 million to food banks in communities where farm workers are losing jobs as fields go fallow; $20 million for emergency drinking water in communities where wells are going dry; and $16 million to protect fish and wildlife threatened by vanishing streams,” the Sentinel summarized.

Moreover, the governor instructed Democrats to attach an amendment along with the legislation to add collective-bargaining agreements increasing pay for prison social workers and psychologists.

In the final analysis, a billion dollar drought bill leaves the famers with some chump change, while multiple special interest groups get their share of the pot.


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