Books

Comments

The Abundance Choice (part 4) – Crafting a Water Initiative

To be fair, Assemblyman Devon Mathis didn’t come up with the idea of allocating a percentage of the state budget to accomplish a policy priority. He got that idea from the California Teachers Association, which in 1988 convinced voters to approve a constitutional amendment that required a minimum of 40 percent of California’s general fund to be spent on K-14 education. But Mathis did have the temerity to be one of the first legislators to emulate the concept when, in 2019, he introduced to the state assembly the “Clean Water for All Act,” which would have given voters a chance to allocate another slice of the general fund to a specific purpose, in this case, funding water infrastructure.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 3 died in committee, but the precedent was set. Ballot box budgeting was back in play. When I talked with Mathis about our initiative in July 2021, it was clear that water was still a top priority for this moderate Republican from the San Joaquin Valley. And as soon as he brought up the “two percent solution,” I knew we had something we could run with.

Up to that point, we had been on the right track with our focus on getting funding for projects that would increase the supply of water to Californians, but we had been planning for the initiative to rely on bond financing. The problem with this approach was that the amount we estimated California needs to spend on water infrastructure starts […] Read More

Finding Common Ground in California

In California, environmental regulations have brought infrastructure investment to a standstill. Without expanding energy, water, and transportation infrastructure, it is nearly impossible to build housing, the cost-of-living is punitive, water is rationed and food is overpriced, the overall quality of life is reduced, and money that ought to be paying skilled workers to operate heavy construction equipment instead goes into the pockets of environmentalist lobbyists, bureaucrats, litigators, and activist nonprofits.

Californians nonetheless agree that infrastructure, as it is traditionally defined, needs new investment. Freeways, bridges, railroads, dams, aqueducts, seaports, airports, transmission lines, pipelines; all of this needs to be maintained and upgraded.

But despite agreement on the goal, more than ever, solutions are filtered through the lens of polarizing ideologies. What is today’s definition of infrastructure? Is it physical assets, or something more ephemeral? Do infrastructure priorities have to be established based on restoring race and gender equity, or by concerns about climate change? Should some infrastructure be deliberately allowed to deteriorate, to avoid “induced demand” and the unsustainable consumption that would result?

Debate over these questions has paralyzed California’s politicians. Navigating a pathway out of this paralyzing morass takes more than just compromise, it takes the courage to adhere to controversial premises. Chief among these is to reject the idea that legislated scarcity is the only option to combat climate change. In every critical area of infrastructure there are solutions that can enable a future of sustainable abundance.

For example, Californians can rebuild their energy infrastructure in a manner […] Read More

Explaining an Initiative to Fund Water Projects

AUDIO/VIDEO: How do ballot initiatives bypass a negligent state legislature? Can ballot initiatives be used to fund water projects, so Californians will not have to experience water scarcity in the future? Can a ballot initiative be used to amend laws and regulations that have made it almost impossible to get approval and permits to construct water infrastructure in California? A 42 minute YouTube interview with Edward Ring on Mike Netter’s Town Hall.

Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.

edwardring.com