Sacramento– Today, Assemblymember Devon J. Mathis (R-Porterville) issued the following statement in response to discussions during an informational Budget Committee hearing on Governor Newsom’s January Budget: 

“It is beyond frustrating that each year we have to beg and plead with the Governor to include real relief for our supply of safe and affordable drinking water; however, each year, it seems as though our request for more water is set aside for budget pork,” said Mathis.  “The Central Valley is drying up while millions of acre feet of water is lost under the guise of ‘beneficial use.’  If we, as a state, are to overcome our reoccurring droughts, we must improve our critical water infrastructure to generate and transfer greater quantities of our precious water supply.”

During today’s informational Budget Committee hearing on the Governor’s January Budget, the Department of Finance announced that there is absolutely no funding in the budget for the creation of new water storage infrastructure.  However, the Department of Finance noted significant funds for the enforcement of the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  SGMA requires local water users to restrict groundwater use to sustainable levels by the early 2040s. This will have a broad impact on valley agriculture and the regional economy in coming years—likely including some permanent idling of farmland. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) estimates that a half a million acres in the San Joaquin Valley—around 10% of the region’s irrigated farmland—will be fallowed.

“The Department’s touting of dollars for enforcement of SGMA as a means to increase the state’s water supply is either simple naiveté or deliberate deception,” said Mathis.  “Fully funding the enforcement mechanisms of SGMA does nothing for the creation of water supply.  Rather, the state is forcing the Central Valley to reduce its water use beyond what is reasonable, and then claims the savings as ‘NEW.’  Put simply, it’s hard for my constituents to drink dollars.”