Jerry Brown, legislative leaders to announce $680 million in drought aid

lrosenhall@sacbee.comFebruary 19, 2014 

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders on Wednesday will unveil plans to spend roughly $680 million on efforts to alleviate the impacts of California's drought.

The proposal elaborates on a plan Senate leader Darrell Steinberg had been working to expedite approval of water recycling and stormwater reuse projects by adding emergency food and housing assistance to farmworkers who will be out of work due to the drought, according to sources familiar with the legislation.

Today's announcement -- set for the Governor's Office of Emergency Services at Mather Field -- comes five days after Brown joined President Barack Obama on a visit to Fresno to talk to farmers about the drought and tout federal assistance including money for livestock losses, watershed protection and summer food programs.

Steinberg's Senate Bill 731 would direct roughly $475 million toward local governments that are ready to build drought alleviation projects. The money would come from Proposition 84, a water bond voters approved in 2006.

The bill also calls for spending roughly $50 million -- largely from a housing bond voters approved in 2006 -- to provide emergency food and shelter to people who are out of work because the farms they normally work on are fallow due to drought.

Another roughly $40 million from cap-and-trade funds would be spent on water efficiency projects that save energy, while roughly $80 million from a 2006 flood bond would be available for projects that prevent flooding while making more water available for dry times, such as infrastructure to capture storm water.

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