NEW LEGISLATION RAIDS TAXPAYERS' POCKETS A new bill making its way through Congress would subsidize billions of dollars in new mega-water projects at the expense of federal taxpayers.
Republicans Seek Artificial Subsidies Instead of Free Market
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
Supporters of the legislation led by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) introduced the measure earlier this month. It would reauthorize the CALFED water program in California and spend additional billions of dollars on water projects throughout the western United States. To clear the first hurdle in Congress, proponents piled the bill high with new water-related "pork" -- giveaways -- to ensure passage through the Resources committee. This pork includes $500 million annually for a new slush fund for western water projects and a major expansion of a controversial water project loan program.
In 1994, California State and Federal agencies got together with local governments and other interests in order to put an end to century old water wars in California. The resulting agreement launched these diverse interests on a six-year journey of rocky negotiations called CALFED. These efforts culminated in the issuance of a CALFED Record of Decision (ROD) in August 2000.
This year, various California lawmakers introduced legislation to reauthorize CALFED. Rep. Calvert's bill is by far the most expensive.
As an example, this measure authorizes "such sums as may be necessary" to complete the CALFED Program, forcing taxpayers to write a blank check to California.
Taxpayer protections carefully laid out in previous CALFED negotiations are missing from Rep. Calvert's bill. The most egregious is that they deleted the promise that whoever is the beneficiary of a water project should pay a fair share of the cost to build these projects. The provision was taken from the bill by special interests that worry that for once they will actually be required to pay their fair share.
The legislation establishes the delivery of subsidized water to a small group of Central Valley agricultural contractors as the highest federal water priority in California. One economist has estimated that these assurances amount to a $1-$2 million subsidy per farmer in the politically powerful Westlands Water District.
The federal government has an important role in helping California with its water woes, but this legislation goes too far. Lawmakers should to go back to the drawing board and take another crack at drafting a responsible bill. Packing a bill with pork is not the way to solve California's water problems; it just creates new budget nightmares in an already uncertain future.
If you would like more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500
ext. 110 or by email
at firstname.lastname@example.org. TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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