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Remarks From Governor's Press Conference To Sign Sbx72 To Reform And Rebuild California's Water System

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Well, thank you very much, Mayor Swearengin, for the nice introduction. And I am ecstatic to be here today celebrating this historic accomplishment. As you have heard, that almost three years ago I stood here on this land in front of the Friant Dam and I promised the people of California and the people of the Central Valley that I will do everything that I can, I will fight day and night, to make sure that we rebuild California's crumbling water infrastructure. Today we are delivering on that promise; it's a promise made and a promise kept.

And it's long overdue, decades overdue. Now, Mark Twain once said that whiskey is for drinking but water is worth fighting over. Well, he must have been talking about California, let me tell you, because for decades Californians have been fighting about water. It's like a holy water war that has taken place over the last few decades here. Everyone was fighting everybody. It was north versus south, rural versus urban, Republicans versus Democrats, business versus labor, farmers versus environmentalists and the list goes on and on, fighting, fighting, fighting. And because of this division it blocked California from investing in its water infrastructure.

Today a system that was built for 18 million people now is crumbling under the pressure of 38 million people. The Central Valley is the epicenter of this crisis. Fields lie fallow, communities are devastated, fathers and mothers are unable to provide for their families. I have heard the pleas of the people here from this valley and I've heard the pleas of the people from the state of California and I think the legislators have heard those pleas as well.

So I'm here today to tell all of you, help is on the way. Last week the legislators came together at six in the morning on Wednesday to approve a comprehensive, historic water agreement. And let me tell you, it was very courageous of all of them to do that, because they all compromised, they all came together. And I also want to say thank you to all of them for the great work that they have done, because like the mayor has just said, it's not one person alone to do that, it's a lot of people that have worked together and I'm very proud of their great, great work.

And in a few minutes I will be signing that bill, Senate Bill X7 2, the lynchpin of the water package. That is, of course, the $11 billion bond that will leverage another $30 billion in federal and in local funds, so altogether this is a $40 billion infrastructure package. It's the biggest infrastructure package in the history of California. This money will fund a variety of different projects which will fix the Delta, it will restore its ecosystem and it will go and build a better conveyance system. And we will have, once and for all, below and above the ground water storage, which we have been fighting for and I wouldn't have signed this without that water storage. (Applause)

Now, let me tell you something. This bond would not have been possible if it wouldn't have been for one man specifically here that I want to single out and that's the man that is standing to my left here. This is Senator David Cogdill, so let's give him a big hand of applause for the great work that he has done over the years, (Applause) year after year after year of fighting and fighting and fighting and negotiating. And let me tell you something, he is a hell of a negotiator, he is unbelievable and he had the skills of bringing everyone together. So I have to say that the first dam that should be built should be called the David Cogdill Dam. (Applause)

But anyway, so I also want to say thank you very much, of course, to the Latino Coalition, to the Latino Water Coalition. They have done an extraordinary job under the leadership of Paul Rodriguez, because they came to Sacramento, to the Capitol and they did their marches and their protests and their speeches and all of those things. So let's give him also a great, great round of applause for the great work and the whole Latino Water Coalition. (Applause)

I want to say a big thank you also to Senator Steinberg and Senator Hollingsworth and Assemblyman Blakeslee and Speaker Bass for their great work. And, of course, all of the people that you see standing behind me, on the side of me here. All of them have contributed so much to the negotiations because there were an endless amount of stakeholders and legislative leaders and legislators that all worked together, so let's give them also a big hand of applause. (Applause)

The bond is just the one piece of the package. Also we are tackling water conservation, 20 percent water conservation by the year 2020. And we will also crack down on those who illegally take water to the detriment of others and we will monitor and clean up our groundwater to protect the public's health and restore local supplies.

Today we set forth a very bold vision for the future ... And I have to say the people have been continuously great partners. They have approved our infrastructure packages in the past, if it is for transportation or education, for rebuilding our levees or for affordable housing and also for hospitals for children and also just recently, the high-speed rail ...

However, we also need water next week, next month and next year, so we will continue to work with Secretary Salazar and to do everything possible to get water flowing to our homes and to our businesses and our farms.

Today I'm also announcing additional help to families in the Central Valley that are struggling to put food on the table. In June, as you remember, I signed an executive order to provide $4 million in emergency food assistance for Fresno County. This has helped more than 15,000 residents a month, yet that money is running out, so today I am ordering this food distribution to continue indefinitely into the winter months. (Applause)

I can promise you that together we will go through this crisis, together we will create jobs again and together we will bring the economy back again.

So thank you very much, all of you, for being here today. And now I would like to announce our next speaker, which is Senator Dave Cogdill, to say a few words. Please welcome Senator Cogdill. (Applause)

SENATOR COGDILL:

Thank you all. Thank you very much for being here today. This is such a special occasion and one that, quite frankly, I at times didn't think would every happen. But you only get to a place like this through a lot of tenacity and working extremely hard and having the kind of leadership and support to get you here. I want to commend the Governor for his dedication to this issue. He's been with it longer than any of us standing here today and has never wavered. And please, yes, applaud him for that. (Applause)

In this business it's extremely important to have the support of the Governor in anything you do, especially something this long term and something this difficult. And he's always been there, steadfast, made sure he sent the right messages into the legislature whenever we started to waver. And again, I'm just very pleased to be here and I want to, again, give him all the thanks that he deserves for that.

All of you certainly -- again, living in this valley, we are so aware of how important water is. It's our lifeblood, as it is everywhere but especially in this valley. This valley was created out of the infrastructure that was built years and years ago by our forefathers and has been sustained by that infrastructure.

And right now it is suffering greatly because we don't have enough water, we don't have enough in the way of ability to get water where we need to, when we're fighting new battles that we never, quite frankly, thought we'd have to fight -- on the environmental front and in the challenges of the federal courts and the ESA and other obstacles that have been put in place.

But the only way we're going to overcome those things is to continue to move forward and take the vision to the people and ask for their support. And hopefully they'll see it a year from now in November, support this bond package and put this state on a path to providing the water that we'll need for the 50 million people that we know are coming here.

There are so many people here today that have worked, again, so hard in a lot of different ways and I just want to acknowledge a couple of them quickly. Certainly I want to acknowledge my family, they're here today, my wife Stephanie, my son David, my daughter Meghan and my grandchildren Connor and Kathleen. (Applause) Because they've been the ones that, you know, haven't been able to see Dad and Grandpa as often as they probably should have over the last few years for a number of reasons. So many times our families really pay the price for the job that we do and I just wanted to acknowledge them and let them know how much I love them for all their support.

I also want to thank, again, Mario Santoyo for all the hard work he's done early on and Paul Rodriguez. (Applause) Amazing. And I'm telling you, at the end of the day they were really key, I think, to bringing this thing home. Ray Appleton, phenomenal. (Applause) On the radio every day, letting people know how important this issue is and pointing out the difficulties that we deal with and demanding action. That's been very important, I think, in all this effort. Mayor Autry, another great champion of the effort, been there from the very beginning, (Applause) and I just, again, want to acknowledge him.

So again, this is a great day but it's only the beginning. We've got a year ahead of us now of real difficult, I'm afraid, campaigning. This isn't the best time to be bringing an $11 billion bond issue forward but I think, again, none of us can forget how important it is to get this question before the voters, to get this process started. None of this is going to happen overnight. This is going to take a decade, a decade and half, to get these improvements in place. But we've got to get the blessing of the people in order to do that. I believe they understand the need but it will be a difficult campaign. We all know that but we're all dedicated as we have been for years, to getting to this point. And with the fine people behind me and all of you, we'll bring this home but it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of dedication to do it.

At this point I'd like to introduce someone that's been very, very helpful in all this effort, especially over the last year, working very diligently on the Assembly side of the House and did a great job. Let me introduce Assemblywoman Anna Caballero. Anna? (Applause)

ASSEMBLYMEMBER CABALLERO:

Thank you very much, Senator. Boy, am I glad to see you here today and to be here to celebrate with you. First, let me start off by thanking the Governor for his incredible leadership, keeping all of us at the table, making sure that whatever package we developed was a comprehensive package that included the bond, because without the bond you can't get anything done in California in terms of our infrastructure. There's no question that we need to make some huge investments and the bond piece was critical to making it bipartisan. So Governor, on behalf of the State Assembly, which I'm here to represent today, thank you very much for keeping us at the table. Without your assistance this would have been nigh on impossible. Thank you very much. (Applause)

Then I'd like to also recognize Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass. Ms. Bass committed herself. She visited this valley about a year ago and saw the economic devastation that was being wrought with the lack of water and she committed herself wholeheartedly to making sure that we had a team that was committed to doing the bond as well as the policy work. And without her it would have been impossible for me to stay at the table and to bring a group of us together, most of whom you see here today.

I'm not going to start naming names, because that's gets me in trouble. But the Assembly came together, we worked very, very hard in a bipartisan way and worked with our Senate counterparts. And but for our leadership, including the Republican leadership as well, the Republican leader, we would not have been able to make this happen. So thank you very, very much for all of you who stayed at the table, who continued to talk.

The valley legislators got it. The understood completely that we needed to change the paradigm, we needed to have conversations, we needed to have a real aggressive effort to try to get something done here. Not only because they live it day in and day out but because they had an opportunity to pull people together and to be able to say to people from Los Angeles, to people from San Diego, to people from the central coast, which I represent, we need to get together, we need to get this done for the benefit of all of California. And so but for their efforts, we would not have been able to get this done here today.

So I'm very pleased, because but for the Latino Water Coalition we wouldn't have been able to get there, so I want to recognize Mario Santoyo and Paul Rodriguez as well, because they were there every day and they brought people to talk. (Applause)

So those of us that had been here in the area and had had conversations had the backup of real live people, saying here's what's going on in my farm, here's what's going on with the food lines, here's why we need your assistance. And it's really important, because sometimes the discussions just don't get through unless there's somebody there that's the face of the valley. And so there were many, many, many people, most of them who are standing up here today, who are celebrating and making sure that we get the final, the final work done.
As you've heard, we're not done yet ?

And before I finish I would also like to recognize all the students that are here, because it's great to see young people. This is your future, this is for you and so thank you for coming out here today. (Applause)

So it gives me great pleasure to introduce an old friend of mine, no stranger to you, the former mayor of the city, the fine city of Fresno, Alan Autry. (Applause)

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

GOVERNOR: Any questions about this, please? I know we have talked enough about it and everyone was very eloquent in explaining it all. And I think the only person that I just wanted to point out also, because we talked about Mayor Swearengin, about the great work she did and being down there in Sacramento and pushing us and pushing us and Mayor Autry pushing us. And they were really the most active mayors in the whole state of California, may I remind you. The amount of phone calls they have made on weekends, at midnight -- I mean, they got a hold of us anywhere and everywhere they wanted to. So we want to say thank you to them.

But also I want to say thank you to Mayor Lopez, who is standing in the back there, (Applause) because he was also there at the Capitol all the time with his whole gang, with the Latino Water Coalition. Thank you for also pushing us and helping with this whole thing.

So, are there any questions, please? Yes? Right over there is one. Yes?

QUESTION: What about the immediate water solution?

GOVERNOR: As I said earlier, we are working very hard with Secretary Salazar to resolve this issue. We have a team on our part and he has put a team together. They are working daily and trying to resolve this issue.
And also I extended the executive order so we can provide more food for the people because that money ran out, or is running out and we want to make sure that the people don't have to worry about food and providing food for their families.

So we're working. We are very much aware of the immediate situation that is existing and we're working on that and also the long-term situation that is existing. We want to make sure that this time, over the next 15 years or so -- that is what it will take to build the infrastructure -- that we are building for 50 million people not for 38 and not being behind but being ahead of the game.

And making sure that we also have something very important besides enough water, that we have clean water, which was a very important factor to this whole equation because we are concerned that all over the state of California, from various different cities, as Mayor Swearengin can tell you, that there are chemicals in the water. And we want to clean up the mess because it causes cancer and I think we have a responsibility to provide a safe environment because public safety is our number one priority.

QUESTION: Governor?

GOVERNOR: Yes, please.

QUESTION: Opponents are talking up some of the earmarks in the bond for some of the projects around the state. Given that, how difficult will it be to get this water bond passed?

GOVERNOR: Well, first of all, let me just say that there is not one single dollar in this package that is not going to be wisely spent, because what some of them call 'earmarks' or 'pork' is for other people very important money to clean up the groundwater. So we wanted to make sure that each city and each community has enough money to clean up the groundwater because cleaning the groundwater is very important, so that became a later part in the negotiations. Because first we talked about infrastructure and first we talked about, you know, fixing the Delta and cleaning up the Delta, its ecosystem and to build a better delivery system, water delivery system and those kind of things. But then later on came in things like measuring and checking the groundwater and keeping a tab on that and also on illegal water transfers and also on cleaning the water. That's why more money was added to the infrastructure bond so we have enough money to clean the groundwater, which is absolutely a necessity ...


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