LOS ANGELES — Backers of a California initiative that would require referendums for state revenue bonds fired back at Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom's criticism of the measure.
The measure was initially dismissed by some as a sneak attack on Gov. Jerry Brown's $15 billion plan to construct twin tunnels through California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to divert water to the south, but has gained some support.
Only 33% of voters deemed requiring voter approval for revenue bonds "very important" in a poll released by the Public Policy Institute of California last week. But 37% of polled voters deemed the measure "somewhat important."
Dean Cortopassi, a wealthy Stockton farmer who ran ads last year decrying the state's debt level, spent $4 million in a successful effort to collect the required signatures to place the measure on the November ballot.
Maria Brichetto, press spokesperson for the anti-revenue bond campaign, said Newsom based his opposition to the Protect Your Right to Vote on Bonds initiative on false and misleading information.
"This measure has one purpose – to allow voters to weigh in on the state's largest revenue bond projects before Californians are expected to pay billions for them," Brichetto said.
The lieutenant governor said the initiative would erode local control and add new hurdles to building infrastructure projects in California by allowing voters in faraway regions to reject local infrastructure projects outside of their communities.
"I am opposed to the statewide ballot measure which – in an attempt to stop one infrastructure project – limits local control and puts thousands of potential state and local job-creating projects into uncertainty, if not outright jeopardy," Newsom said Monday in a statement.
This measure will not impact local government projects whatsoever, Brichetto said.
The initiative would require a referendum whenever the state wants to use revenue bonds to borrow more than $2 billion for infrastructure projects. Currently, general obligation bonds paid for from the state's general fund require voter approval, but revenue bonds, typically paid for with user fees, do not.
Brown's $15 billion plan to tunnel under the delta involves issuing revenue bonds that would be repaid by water districts.