The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Anna Ghosh, Food & Water Watch: 415-293-9905, aghosh(at)fwwatch(dot)org

Who's Bankrolling the Push for Prop 18?

Consumer group outlines who’s paying for pro-water bond campaign and the surprising winners—and losers—behind the massive $11 billion bond


Developers, agribusiness and construction interests would benefit
from the water bond on this fall's ballot, while public services-such as
education and public health programs-could suffer, according to a new
analysis from consumer organization Food & Water Watch.

As California's legislators return to Sacramento this week to decide
the fate of Proposition 18, an $11 billion water bond that the governor
hopes to postpone to the 2012 ballot, the group today released an
independent analysis detailing the funders of the pro-bond campaign and
the interests that stand to benefit from the most expensive water bond
in the state's history. The fact sheet, Who's Behind the Bond?, can be
downloaded here:

"Proposition 18 is being sold as a solution that will benefit all
Californians, but over half of the contributions to the Alliance for
Clean Water and New Jobs, the main political action committee behind the
bond, come from agribusiness, construction and development interests,"
said Elanor Starmer, Western Region Director for Food & Water Watch.
"The bond provides more money for these interests, which have
mismanaged our water in the past."

The bond would cost the state's General Fund an estimated $800
million a year, enough to fund 13,000 teachers' salaries or a quarter of
the University of California's state funding each year, according to
the report. But while taxpayers would likely see cuts to these and other
essential services if the bond passed, they would not be the main
beneficiaries of bond-funded projects.

Food & Water Watch examined campaign finance reports and other
documents to determine who contributed to the pro-bond PAC directly and
indirectly through other PACs, such as Schwarzenegger's California Dream

The group then investigated several primary beneficiaries of the
water bond based on the text of the bill and other documents. Some
beneficiaries, such as powerful Central Valley corporate farms and The
Westlands Water District, are well known. Other less obvious
beneficiaries include Warren Buffet, large construction companies like
Japan-based Obayashi Corp., and companies in the business of privatizing
water resources like American Water Company and Poseidon Resources.

The analysis concludes that these interests, not the general public,
are the main beneficiaries of the water bond, although the cost of the
bond would be borne by all taxpayers.

With polls showing lagging support for the bond, Governor
Schwarzenegger asked the legislature last month to delay the measure
until the 2012 ballot. Any adjustment to Prop 18, including
postponement, requires a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature.
The legislature has until around Aug. 20, when ballots will be printed,
to postpone or remove the measure from the ballot.

"Our report shows that the bond does not benefit the taxpayers who
would foot the bill for these projects," said Food & Water Watch's
Starmer. "In the interest of all Californians, legislators should take
this opportunity to repeal the bond and start anew, not postpone it."

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

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