Calleguas Municipal Water District passes anti-Prop 53 resolution

By George Miller

On 10-25-16, Calleguas Municipal Water District passed resolution 1895 opposing CA Proposition 53, on the grounds that it would make passing bonds greater than $2 billion too difficult. Since most water bonds wouldn’t be that large, it looks like it is just intended to add a voters’ review of mega-projects.  But Calleguas presented a $2 billion desalination plant conceptual presentation last year.


Source: Steve Nash/Dan Pinedo


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Source: Steve Nash/Dan Pinedo

There are some questions as to whether a governmental agency can legally advocate for or against an issue which is up for a vote, such as this one. Calleguas does appear to be a government agency (District Administrative Code). We don’t know exactly how this case is impacted by the law and don’t even know if state money would be involved.


A Prop 53 evaluation by political consultant Stephen Frank:

Prop. 53  This measure would mandate that if a government agency sells $2 billion or more in bonds for a project or project they will sell $2 billion or more over time for a project, the voters need to confirm the sale before it occurs.  That part is great.  The devil is in the details.  Under this measure if an agency is part of a joint powers agreement they must get a public vote—statewide.  The city of Simi Valley is under orders to upgrade our sewer system—it has some joint powers agreements. The cost could be between $2-3 billion.  That means the people of Simi Valley get to vote for it—and the folks in Chico, Chino and El Centro.  Simi Valley can turn it down, but if the folks statewide approve, we get stuck with the bill.  Let them come back in 2018 with a clean measure.

The goal was to stop the financing of the choo choo to nowhere and the environmentally unsafe Delta Tunnel.  The measure is supported by the California Republican Party and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.  Well intended—but defective.



League of Women Voters evaluation

The League of Women Voters often takes positions on ballot measures, but did not take sides on this one. However, they did offer this analysis:

The way it is now

To pay for major construction projects, such as roads, bridges, dams and prisons, the state often uses money collected from taxes. Another way the state pays for these projects is by selling a special kind of bond, called a “revenue” bond, to investors. Once a project is completed, fees, such as bridge tolls, are then used to pay back the bond. Under current law, the state may sell revenue bonds without voter approval.

What if it passes?

Voters would have to approve revenue bonds that add up to more than $2 billion for a specific state project. Bonds sold at the local level, for example by cities, counties, or school districts, would not be affected.

Budget effect

The effect is hard to predict. There probably won’t be very many projects using revenue bonds that cost $2 billion or more. Very large construction projects could be affected, such as high-speed rail or regional water systems.  The cost will depend on whether voters approve specific bonds and, if they don’t, whether the state decides to pay for the project in a different way.

George Miller is Publisher of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard

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One Response to Calleguas Municipal Water District passes anti-Prop 53 resolution

  1. William "Bill" Hicks October 26, 2016 at 10:57 am

    What makes the “Delta Tunnel” unsafe?


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