June 2022 California Budget Update

Stacy Corless

Stacy Corless

Director of Government & Community Affairs

$21 Billion Climate and Energy Package

In lieu of the Governor’s various Resources- and Energy-related packages, adopt a Legislative Climate-Energy Budget Plan, appropriating $21 billion General Fund (in addition to associated federal funding and special funds), with details to be worked out.  The Plan is expected to include items related to the following issues: Water-Drought Resilience, Wildfire Resilience, firefighter staffing levels, Sea Level Rise, Extreme Heat, Biodiversity and Outdoor Access, Energy, Zero-Emission Vehicles, and other climate-related actions. 

2022-23 State Budget Summary

As we approach the start of a new fiscal year on July 1, exactly what impact the state’s record budget surplus and spending will have on the Sierra is still not clear. A key phrase to describe the state’s budget status as of June 21 is “…with details to be worked out.” 

The budget process continues as summer begins with one major milestone reached: the California legislature met its constitutional obligation to approve a budget bill by June 15. This bill, SB 154, represents the basic framework of a budget agreement between the Senate and Assembly for spending in the new fiscal year. It addresses many of the basic requirements. 

The Governor has 12 days to sign the bill, but that is not the end of the budget process. Because SB 154, like last year’s chief budget bill, functions more like a framework than a detailed spending plan, negotiations between the legislature and the administration on specific programs will carry on through August, with a “junior” budget bill to accompany the chief framework and a series of trailer bills forthcoming. 

Of particular interest to SBC and our region is, of course, funding for wildfire and climate resilience programs. That’s where the above-referenced “$21 Billion Climate and Energy Package” comes in. This high-level allocation represents a slight overall increase to what was proposed in Governor Newsom’s spending plan and promises to address issues impacting the Sierra Nevada. Exactly how that $21 billion will get divided up simply remains to be seen, as summer and peak fire season loom large.

Sierra Business Council and coalition partners continue to advocate not only for sustained and increased for funding climate-related programs, but also for investment with the greatest impact. 

As a member of the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation, SBC recently signed a letter to the governor and legislative leaders outlining recommendations for climate resilient budget allocations. Here are some key points:

  • Fund investments in longer-term climate adaptation, including forest management and capacity building for wildfire resilience, not just immediate fire suppression.
  • Allocate additional funding to implement state adaptation plans, including the California Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan, the California Water Resilience Portfolio Initiative, the 2021 California Climate Adaptation Strategy, the Extreme Heat Action Plan, and the Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy.
  • Fund the full life-cycle of climate adaptation and resilience projects, including stewardship and management.
  • Ensure that state grant programs are accessible and efficient, getting these dollars to projects on the ground.

One example both of the urgent need for increased investment in climate and wildfire resilience and of efficient, effective state grant programs comes for our partners at the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC). At its meeting earlier this month, the SNC governing board approved over $21 million in grants for wildfire recovery and forest resilience projects throughout the region, funding that came from last year’s historic state budget allocation. While SNC’s grant-making capacity grew, so did demand for those dollars; since June 2021, SNC reports an unprecedented $100 million in requests for wildfire and climate resilience project funding. Read more about SNC’s work

The Sierra Nevada message to our state leaders: we know what work needs to be done, and we know how to increase the pace and scale of climate and forest resilience efforts. Please continue to invest in agencies and programs that deliver results. 

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