Jan. 10, 2018 – -Gov. Brown this week released his 2018-2019 January budget proposal with a warning that continued uncertainty about the impacts of new federal policies, combined with a longer-than-average economic expansion, could be triggers for the next downturn in the economy. Towards that end, he proposes to bank higher revenues into the state “rainy day” reserves and pay down debts and liabilities. Many of his proposals will require companion legislation. Today, and in the weeks ahead, the Almond Alliance will be meeting with the Governor’s Office, legislature and critical state agencies to provide feedback on the many different ideas that will come from both political parties in response to the budget proposal.
The Governor delayed the release of the expenditure plan for the California Air Resources Board “Cap and Trade” profits until January 15, when he delivers his State of the State address. In 2017 the plan appropriated monies for the Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) Program, which is to provide funding for harvesting equipment, heavy-duty trucks, pump engines, tractors, and other equipment.
Although he has not endorsed SB 5 the “California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All” bond, he has staked funding for state water projects upon the premise of its approval by voters in June 2018. The Governor proposes the following projects to be funded by SB 5:
- SGMA Implementation—$61.8 million from SB 5 for DWR to support groundwater sustainability agencies through three key efforts: (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.
- Groundwater Treatment—$84 million from SB 5 for the State Water Board to support regional groundwater treatment and remediation activities that prevent or reduce contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water, including $10 million for technical assistance for drought and groundwater investments.
- Multi-Benefit Flood Control Projects—$98.5 million from SB 5 for flood control projects that achieve public safety and fish and wildlife improvements, as well as funding for a new Floodplain Management, Protection and Risk Awareness Program to protect California’s alluvial fan, coastal, and riverine floodplains. This funding, along with previously appropriated Proposition 1 and 1E funds, intends to support an integrated system wide approach to flood management and implementation of the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.
- Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund—Establishes a new special fund for the State Water Board to assist 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 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.
- The Budget proposes $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. $27 million is proposed to improve regional water supply within the San Joaquin River watershed.
- Safe Drinking Water Projects—$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, including both drinking water and wastewater treatment projects.