SACRAMENTO - Gov. Brown signed legislation Tuesday to extend the deadline to place a new water bond on the November ballot.
The bond measure would pay to upgrade key infrastructure like pipelines and aqueducts.
By extending the deadline, the governor bought some extra time to craft a measure he hopes voters will approve, but the debate is far from over.
Flanked by fellow Democrats, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D- Sacramento, Brown led a meeting with state leaders at his Capitol office to build support for his proposed $7.2 billion water bond, aimed at providing California some relief from punishing drought conditions.
The Republican leadership did not take part in the meeting, but a spokesperson for Senate GOP leader Bob Huff told reporters they will continue discussions with the governor.
"Anytime you're talking, it's better than when you're not talking," Peter DeMarco said.
However, a lot of work remains before both parties can sign off on a final plan.
"There is not support for the Governor's current proposal because it still lacks sufficient water storage funding, and it does no good to build only half a dam," DeMarco said.
Steinberg downplayed partisan disagreements and expressed confidence an agreement is possible.
"I think two and a half billion dollars for storage on a $7.2 billion bond, almost 40 percent, is a significant investment and represents more than good faith in terms of meeting that objective," Steinberg said.
But passing the Legislature is only half the battle. Any water bond will face voter scrutiny, and some environmental groups are already unhappy with the direction the debate has taken.
"As this bond is currently drafted, none of that money will go to coastal areas, and it's not a fair playing field," Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips said.
That's why the governor hopes bipartisan support for a final measure will go a long way toward winning over voters.
"Because I think the voter disaffection is fed by the specter of the two parties squabbling, and whenever on an important issue both parties are represented in the outcome, that builds confidence in a very important way," Brown said.
Steinberg said he is confident they will have a water bond by the end of Wednesday, but it may take all day for all sides to come to an agreement.