The Assembly Appropriations Committee passed a $7-billion climate resilience bond on Wednesday. Along with funding water conservation and climate-smart ag programs, the bond would put valuable resources toward groundwater recharge, safe drinking water, flood protection and wildfire management. The authors recently added economic recovery to the list as well.
The governor has pulled his version of a climate bond proposal, while another one stalled in the Senate and yet another failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
Over two days of hearings, the Appropriations Committee heard more than 300 bills, representing a total of $8 billion in funding, according to Committee Chair Lorena Gonzalez. The committee carries a lot of weight in the Legislature, deciding which bills make it to the floor for a debate among all assemblymembers.
The committee also passed AB 2043, which would mandate statewide adoption of Cal/OSHA safety guidelines for COVID-19, regardless of county ordinances. It would also direct the agency to increase enforcement.
Another bill that passed proposes the Regions Rise Together grant program aimed at rural and underserved areas. It’s named after the governor’s statewide listening tour last year. According to the bill’s author, Asm. Rudy Salas of Bakersfield, the measure would “tackle the barriers that prevent inland California from experiencing the health and prosperity our Golden State experiences in other regions.”
A bill by the same author was among the many that effectively died in committee yesterday. The bill would have offered incentives grants for managing lands fallowed under SGMA to promote ecosystem benefits. Budget analysts found it would cost “in the tens of millions of dollars to fund the incentive program.”
On Wednesday, the Assembly and Senate also announced an agreement over a budget to present to the governor.
As in the Senate proposal released last week, the agreement pushes back on Newsom’s “draconian” austerity measures. In the summary, it rejects cuts to the UC system, including the 10% hit to Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The Legislature would also charge the Air Resources Board with tweaking the cap-and-trade program to generate more revenues. That could offer more funding for the new safe drinking water program, avoiding more fees on farmers. It would also help farmers meet emissions reductions targets.