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California Governor Proposes $687 Million Drought Package

<p>Governor Jerry Brown of California proposes a spending package of $687 million for communities affected by the drought.</p>
Image: A trace of water sits in the bottom of a canal in California.
A trace of water sits in the bottom of the Madera Canal, which is fed by the nearby Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River in Friant, Calif.John Brecher / NBC News file

California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday revealed a spending package of $687 million in relief for drought-stricken communities throughout the state.

Brown, a Democrat, said at a news conference that the plan would give money for food and housing to workers impacted by the drought as well as fund projects to conserve, capture and manage water in parched communities.

The proposal will also increase penalties for illegally diverting water, which has become a growing problem in high farming regions.

"This is a call to action. We must all do our part to conserve in this drought," Brown said in a statement.

Most of the money — $549 million — will come in the form of accelerated spending from two bonds approved previously by voters.

State Republicans countered that they are concerned with more long-term solutions, which they believe the plan does not address.

"While short-term help is needed, Sacramento must also focus on a long-term water solution," Republican Assemblyman Frank Bigelow and Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, said in a statement.

The proposal is now going to lawmakers for consideration. Democrats control a majority in both chambers of the California legislature.