Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday defended $11.1 billion in new borrowing as a critical investment in the state's water future while at the same time insisting California must cut its way toward a balanced budget in the short term.
In an interview Thursday with The Bee's editorial board, the Republican governor also took aim at the state's prison employees and advocated for a constitutional change allowing California to rely more on private workers.
After reaching a deal last week with state lawmakers to bolster California's water infrastructure, Schwarzenegger is trying to build popular support for the plan, knowing voters will have the final say when they consider the $11.1 billion bond next year.
Fiscal conservatives have assailed the bond for increasing the state's debt load and for paying for local projects such as $20 million for economic development in Siskiyou County, where Klamath River dams are being removed.
Schwarzenegger defended the bond Thursday, saying the state would stagger its borrowing to reduce impacts on its overall debt load. He said the money would help leverage an additional $25 billion to $30 billion in federal funds.
And he denied that local water projects in line for money were political pork, as critics have suggested.
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