California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 24 bills that allocate $15 billion to further the state’s efforts to combat climate change, drought and wildfires.
The total includes additional funding agreed to by the Legislature after the $261.4 billion budget was passed by the constitutional deadline and signed by the governor in July, but also some funding that was included in the budget.
The state “is doubling down on its nation-leading policies to confront the climate crisis head-on while protecting the hardest-hit communities,” Newsom said during a press conference Thursday in wildfire-damaged Sequoia National Park.
Newsom called the effort the “largest in the state’s history” to bolster wildfire resilience, tackle the drought emergency, build long-term water resilience and protect communities from extreme heat, sea level rise and other climate risks.
When he signed the budget in July, the governor and fellow Democrats who lead the Legislature agreed to additional discussions to further refine steps to advance priorities, including natural resource investments, he said.
The climate package includes: 1) a $1.5 billion wildfire and forest resilience package, including a $536 million early action package approved in April ahead of peak fire season; 2) a $5.2 billion three-year water and drought resilience package; 3) a $3.7 billion three-year climate resilience package combatting extreme head and sea level rise; 4) a $1.1 billion two-year climate smart agriculture program to encourage sustainable agriculture systems; 5) a $3.9 billion zero-emission vehicle package and 6) $270 million to reduce short-lived climate pollutants from the waste sector and $150 million to support urban waterfront parks in underserved community.
The governor and lawmakers didn’t reach an agreement, however, on transportation items including funding for high speed rail. Those items could be revisited when Newsom introduces his budget for the upcoming fiscal year in January.
The budget conditionally appropriated $3.4 billion General Fund for a variety of transportation projects, including $1 billion to deliver what are called critical projects in advance of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic games and $1 billion to enhance connectivity through clean transportation investment in priority transit and rail projects to improve rail and transit connectivity throughout the state, according to the budget addendum document.
“These transportation funds in the 2021 Budget Act were contingent on an allocation schedule being set in legislation by October 10, 2021,” according to the document. “While no agreement was reached regarding these allocations, further discussions are ongoing as to these funds and for the $4.2 billion in bond funds that are specifically set aside for California’s High Speed Rail project.”