On Thursday, December 10, a California judge declared null a pact which would have allowed Imperial Valley water suppliers (such as the Imperial Irrigation District) to sell up to 100 billion gallons of water annually to San Diego, Coachella and Los Angeles water suppliers, such as the San Diego Water Authority and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. What was ironic was that the judge, Roland Candee, was at all not expected to question the agreement, which comprised more than 10 individual agreements for water sharing.
The ruling was based on the fact that state leaders, when agreeing to the arrangement in order to appear environmentally friendly, may have signed over more than power allows. The ruling notes that, “if this contract language is validated, executive agencies of the state can contract for amounts well over the constitutional debt limit.” According to an AP analysis, Candee’s decision pointed to the unavoidable fact that the state violated “a constitutional limit on assuming debts” by putting in no limitation on future costs. Candee also noted that in good conscience as a representative of the court, he could not “sanction a way to contract around the Constitution.”
If Judge Candee overthrew the agreements in the name of upholding California law and fiscal responsibility, then bully for him! The state is so deep in debt that leaders deserve a slap back to reality. Before promising to rehabilitate every natural process, state officials need to focus on the greatest demands: tax reform, healing the ailing economy (through tax reform as well), education reform (throw less money at underachieving institutions K-12) and helping the high-performing but economically ailing University of California and California State University systems, which desperately need money and which can both help the state’s economy. Now is the time to look at the economic mess and find a way to improve, rather than shuffle the mess under the carpet and look for the occasional PR opportunity. One can buy all the good PR in the world, but it doesn’t matter a bit if the PR can’t fix a broken system.
Good for Judge Candee: he is one of very few California officials who is willing to recognizing the consequence of massive spending and to put the brakes on unsustainable economic practices.