Governor Newsom points at a pie chart labeled Climate Budget

CA Budget Summary — What’s important for SYRCL members

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On January 10, Governor Newsom released his proposal for the 2023-24 state budget – otherwise known as the January Budget. Between the Governor’s Department of Finance estimates and the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates, the state is facing anywhere between an $18 billion and $22.5 billion budget deficit heading into the new fiscal year.

Because the State Constitution requires the state to pass a balanced budget, the Governor is charged with finding solutions to remedy an anticipated deficit. The Governor’s January Budget proposes to address the anticipated deficit in numerous ways, but mainly focuses on reduced state spending or budget cuts.

Why is the state budget important to us?

While the proposed state budget includes many important investments such as providing funding to support local agencies reduce flood risk, enhancing water rights data management, and improving water conservation and drought planning, the Governor’s proposal also includes over $6 billion in proposed cuts to various state agencies and related programs, $3.8 billion of which are subject to “Trigger Restoration” if there is sufficient revenue in 2024-25. The climate budget took the biggest hit.

Here are just a few of the proposed cuts in the climate budget:

  • Drought
    • Watershed resilience – $24 million (plus $270 million delay)
    • PFAS cleanup – $70 million (plus $30 million delay)
    • Water recycling – $40 million
    • State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program – $40 million

  • Nature Based Solutions
    • Protecting Fish and Wildlife from Changing Climate – $35 million
    • State Conservancy Nature-Based Solutions – $100 million
    • Natural Community Conservation Program Planning and Land Acquisition – $6 million
    • Local and Tribal Nature-Based Solutions Corps – $23.5 million total
    • Eliminates funding for San Joaquin Valley Flood Plain Restoration – $40 million

  • Wildfire and Forest Resilience
    • Climate Catalyst Fund – $41 million total
    • Stewardship of State-Owned Lands – $25 million
    • Defensible space inspections – $5 million

  • Climate Smart Agriculture
    • Healthy Soils Program, Sustainable Cannabis Pilot Program, Pollinator Habitat Program, Conservation Agriculture Planning Grant Program, greenhouse gas reduction research, Invasive Species Council, and Climate Catalyst Fund – $94.2 million

  • Extreme Heat and Community Resilience
    • Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program – $75 million
    • Urban Forestry – $30 million
    • Transformative Climate Communities Program – $105 million

  • Parks
    • Statewide Parks Program – $150 million
    • Natural Resources and Parks Perseveration Fund – Reverts $110 million away to the General Fund

The state budget is often referred to as a reflection of the state’s values. While the proposed climate budget cuts may be devastating, particularly for vulnerable and underserved communities disproportionately impacted by climate change – there is still hope. The state budget process provides a unique opportunity for the community and stakeholders to have a say in what those values are.

The Governor’s proposal is just the beginning of the annual budget process. Over the coming months, both houses of the Legislature will analyze the Governor’s proposals and coordinate with the Administration, stakeholders and the public regarding budget spending and priorities. The Governor will release a revision to his budget proposal in May, also known as the May Revise. Engagement will continue and in June the Legislature will pass a final budget with the Governor that will ideally represent shared values across all branches of state government, and truly reflect the voices of our communities.  

SYRCL will continue to advocate for a strong climate budget alongside our partners, as the state budget process continues.

You can read a full official summary of the Governor’s January Budget here.

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