California Budget

Governor’s May Revision, State Senate’s Climate Proposal & Sierra Nevada Impacts

Stacy Corless

Stacy Corless

Government & Community Affairs Director

California’s already lofty state budget surplus reached a new high of $97.5 billion, and the budget itself grew to a record $300 billion in spending as Governor Newsom released his administration’s revisions to its 2022-23 budget proposal on May 13. What impacts will these big numbers have on the Sierra Nevada? Will there be more funding and opportunity for state investment be coming our way? 

The news from Sacramento on Friday was mixed for the Sierra. While the state has made impressive initial investments in climate resiliency programs in recent years, including wildfire prevention, the so-called “May Revise” focused more heavily on shoring up reserves and one-time spending than longer-term investments in landscape restoration and rural community well-being. $18.1 billion is proposed for direct inflation relief to California taxpayers, along with infrastructure spending that targets the state’s top priorities including transportation, broadband, drought response and homelessness, as well as additional funding for CAL FIRE as the agency faces what most certainly will be a difficult year of firefighting. While these proposals will benefit us in the Sierra, SBC and its partner organizations were disappointed that no additional resources were directed for wildfire resilience and forest health.  

A more promising proposal emerged from the legislature, though. State Senate leaders unveiled a spending package that heavily invests in climate adaptation and mitigation, including wildfire and forest resilience. The Senate’s “Putting Wealth to Work” proposal would invest $6.6 billion over five years in wildfire resilience as part of a comprehensive $18 billion climate funding package that supports other SBC priorities such as California’s 30x 30 conservation initiative.

Photo Courtesy Stacy Corless

SBC and a number of statewide coalitions are advocating for an increased, sustained investment in forest health and wildfire resiliency that matches the Senate’s proposal, and nearly doubles the amounts in Governor Newsom’s revised budget. In order to tackle the backlog of work needed to meet ambitious goals that both the state and federal governments have set for fire and forest resilience, the state must commit at least $1billion per year for multiple years

As the administration and legislature negotiate a budget deal over the next few weeks and then finalize spending plans in budget trailer legislation later this summer, SBC will continue to be a strong voice at the Capitol on issues impacting our region. The state must leverage its unprecedented financial situation to address the climate crisis and the converging threats of fire and drought that face the Sierra. This is a historic and existential challenge and a tremendous opportunity to secure a healthier future for all Californians.

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