LOS ANGELES-The latest flashpoint in California's ongoing government crisis comes as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger threatens to veto more than 700 bills-almost 10 months of work from the California Assembly-if legislators don't reach a compromise on overhauling California's deteriorating water system by Sunday.
With many regions of California reaching their third year of drought, and infrastructure across the state crumbling, a solution to the state's water woes is desperately needed. But there's a reason why the problem has remained unresolved for a generation.
Any solution requires reaching a compromise among the state's many powerful interest groups. For water utilities, environmentalists, fisheries, and agricultural interests, the future of California's water supply is of crucial importance. Furthermore, legislators must figure out how to pay for the needed overhaul, with bond schemes ranging between $8 and $12 billion being proposed.
With the state looking bankruptcy square in the face, many are wary of saddling the state with more debt. Any compromise will need to satisfy the tangled and sometimes contradictory web of guidelines set by various federal agencies.
Predictably, the governor's adversaries in the legislature have reacted angrily to his ultimatum, with Assembly Majority Leader Albert Torrico reporting the governor to the state's attorney general for extortion.
The bills Schwarzenegger is threatening to spike range from the minor (a day to honor Harvey Milk, the murdered San Francisco city supervisor and gay rights activist) to the crucial (providing $400 million to state schools).
Many legislators appear to think that the governor is bluffing, but with his term coming to an end, his popularity at an all time low, and his desperation to leave a lasting legacy on the state, Schwarzenegger may just decide he has nothing to lose.