Most state money for natural resources and environmental protection falls outside Gov. Jerry Brown’s general fund plans. Come July, the governor’s budget could shake a few things up.
Brown warns that fish and game wardens could see more cuts if California voters don’t back his plan to temporarily raise sales tax and some income tax for high earners.
The Natural Resources Agency gets just about a quarter of its funding from the general fund. Within it, the governor’s proposing to add positions to the Department of Fish and Game to manage surging interest in building large-scale renewable energy projects in the Colorado and Mojave deserts.
Cutting warden positions 20 percent would shrink marine operations, including enforcement efforts for the state’s high-profile marine protected areas, whose rules took effect at the beginning of the year. It would also antagonize an active warden’s lobby, who have been pushing for the state to add positions.
As for state parks, long contested and tentative plans to close up to 70 state parks remain in discussion.
The Environmental Protection Agency gets just 3 percent of its budget money from the state’s general fund. Some small water boards would combine, and some topic-specific commissions would disband, under the proposed budget.
The agency’s departments and boards, including the Air Resources Board, keep roughly the same funding they’ve had in prior years. The proposed budget notes that CARB regulators begin running a statewide market for greenhouse gas trading and reduction this year — the cornerstone of the state’s landmark global warming effort, AB 32.
Nowhere does the budget address the financial impact a controversial $11.1 billion bond could have on water resources if it is passed on the November ballot. The bond was the product of intense bipartisan negotiation in 2009.
Brown has not said whether he supports that bond, though he has said that in coming months he’ll have a "very workable water proposal" that would improve water delivery and water quality around the state. If Brown wanted to shrink it, a two-thirds majority of lawmakers would have to approve changes to the bond package.