Jan. 19, 2018 – -Governor Brown introduced his eighth and final proposed 2018-19 State Budget last week and demonstrated his values, most notably fiscal prudence, to prepare for a future recession and flexibility to local agencies rather than prescriptive budget rules.  The administration is stating that this budget keeps the state on a path to long-term fiscal stability, fills the state’s Rainy Day Fund to its constitutional target, fully implements the state’s K-12 school funding and provides $4.6 billion for the first year of a 10-year transportation improvement plan.  The total proposed state budget is $131.7 billion.

While well received by Legislators in both parties, it is likely the proposed budget will set off a volley where Democratic legislators will argue that the additional funding to the Rainy Day fund should be split with some portion going to their priorities. Republicans likely will argue a similar strategy, except to allocate the additional funding for transportation projects in lieu of the gas tax and VLF increases.

For agriculture and the almond industry, there is ample funding for several key programs at CDFA and for water and natural resource areas the Governor’s budget was cautiously generous.  However, there are also key policy issues announced that will require engagement from the Almond Alliance and our agriculture advocates.

General CDFA program investments include:

  •    $ 429,000 of general fund for “Farm to Fork” program
  •    $ 671,000 from Ag fund to State Organic to increase testing, enforcement and training plus 3 positions
  •    $ 265,000 from the ag fund to Farmers Market Program for the database implementation
  •    $ 294,000 general fund to fulfill mandates of AB 954 which requires CDFA to develop guidance for “best if used by dates” on food.
  •    $ 139.000 general fund to hire one position, per AB 1348, to promote diversity in California farm community.
  •    $ 9,348,000 of Capital Outlay to build a new Blythe Border Protection Station.

The Plant areas of CDFA are proposed to receive:

  •    $2.5 million general fund to citrus plus and additional 2.5 million from the ag fund to fight citrus greening disease.
  •    $1,853,000 general fund for bee safe forage to assist in the development of foraging habitat for Bees.
  •    $529,000 general fund for one position and contracts funding at the Office of Pesticide Consultation (OPCA) to study alternatives to pesticides that have restricted use and focus on biocontrol

The department has funding for livestock investments including:

  •    $2,668,000 of general fund and 11 positions for full implementation of SB 27 which regulated antibiotics in feed and animals.
  •    $716,000 to the Feed Program for Feed Safety Rule implementation
  •     $440,000 from special funds and a half position for pet lovers license plate implementation.

In addition, the budget proposes to provide the following funding if the Parks and Water Bond authorized by SB 5 is passed in June:

  •    $17,800,000 for State Water Efficiency Program (SWEEP)
  •    $8,604,000 for healthy soils
  •    $3,559,000 for California Fairs deferred maintenance.

Natural Resources and Environmental Protection was also outlined in the Governor’s Budget.  Below is a discussion of the key water and habitat issues.  Climate change funding from “Cap and Trade” program will be released after the Governor’s State of the State on January 25th.

  •    $61.8 million from SB 5 for DWR to support implementation of “Sustainable Ground Water” management Planning including  (1) providing technical assistance to aid in the development and evaluation of their plans, (2) supplementing existing planning grants to support a groundwater sustainability agency’s responsibility to define a path to achieve sustainable groundwater management, and (3) providing grants directly supporting implementation of groundwater projects.

Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund—Establishes a new special fund for the State Water Board to assist communities, particularly disadvantaged communities, in paying for the short-term and long-term costs of obtaining access to safe and affordable drinking water. The Administration is proposing statutory language, consistent with the policy framework of SB 623, introduced in the 2017-18 legislative session, to establish a program that provides grants, loans, and administrator contracts or services to assist eligible communities and households in securing access to safe and affordable drinking water.

  •    $4.7 million in 2018-19 for the State Water Board and the Department of Food and Agriculture to take initial steps toward implementation of this new program, including (1) developing and implementing fee collection systems, (2) conducting an assessment to estimate the level of funding needed to assist water systems in the state to ensure the delivery of safe and affordable drinking water, and (3) developing and making available a map of high-risk aquifers used as drinking water sources.
  •    $63 million from SB 5 for the State Water Board to provide grants to public water systems in disadvantaged communities for infrastructure improvements to meet safe and affordable drinking water standards.
  •    $27 million is available to improve regional water supply within the San Joaquin River watershed.
  •    $30 million from SB 5 for Salton Sea Plan implementation
  •    $3.5 million for DWR to review and approve required inundation maps and coordinate the review of emergency action plans
  •    $3 million ongoing for focused re-evaluations of spillways and critical appurtenant structures.