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The Latest: Budget ups fire spending; no money for retrofits
May 9, 2019
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal (all times local):
Gov. Gavin Newsom says he wants to see Californians “harden” their homes to protect them from deadly wildfires. But he’s declining to endorse a proposed $1 billion fund to help homeowners pay for retrofits.
The revised budget proposal he released Thursday includes $75 million to study power line de-energization and $41 million for inspections and reviews of utility company plans submitted to the Public Utilities Commission.
But he wouldn’t commit to supporting a pending Assembly bill that would create a $1 billion fund to provide Californians in high-risk fire areas with rebates and low-cost loans to pay for retrofits.
Newsom says he still supports fire-resistant roofs and other features that can protect homes.
He says he’ll work with legislators to see if they can find money to help homeowners.
California’s top legislative budget leaders have praised Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed spending plan and predicted they will pass an operating budget on time.
Assembly Budget Committee chairman Phil Ting said the state must continue to rebuild its social infrastructure while investing in education, health and housing programs. He noted the governor and the legislature have differences, but he said he is confident lawmakers will deliver a budget by the June 15 deadline.
Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Holly Mitchell lauded Newsom for preparing for the next recession.
Republican Sen. Patricia Bates criticized Newsom for including proposals for new taxes despite the state having a $21.5 billion surplus.
California is paying a price for the shaky rollout of its legal marijuana market.
Budget documents released Thursday show the Newsom administration is scaling back what it expects to collect in cannabis tax revenue by $223 million through June 2020.
What that means is that slower-than-expected pot sales are gouging a hole in California’s budget.
Industry officials say most consumers continue to purchase pot in the illegal market, where they avoid taxes that can near 50 percent in some communities.
State taxes include a 15 percent levy on purchases of all cannabis and cannabis products, including medical pot.
Local governments are free to add taxes on sales and growing too, which has created a patchwork of rates around the state.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a $213.5 billion state government spending plan that boosts spending on homelessness, wildfire prevention and K-12 education.
His proposal announced Thursday is up $4.5 billion from his first budget plan released in January. It includes a $21.5 billion surplus that is unchanged from January but remains the largest surplus in at least 20 years.
He now hands the proposal to state lawmakers, who must pass a budget by June 15 or lose pay.
The Democratic governor’s proposal puts $15 billion toward state reserves and paying down debt, up $1.4 billion from January.
Newsom has added about $150 million in grants to local governments to deal with homelessness, calling the problem “a stain on the state.”
He’s added $40 million to deal with wildfires and natural disasters.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is preparing to reveal a revised plan for how the state should spend its more than $200 billion state budget.
The Democratic governor’s plan will be announced Thursday and kick off weeks of negotiations with lawmakers, who have until June 15 to pass a budget.
His first plan announced in January predicted a $21.5 billion surplus, the state’s largest in 20 years. It could increase after the state received several billion dollars more than predicted in April income taxes.
Newsom’s first spending plan included new investments in schools, welfare and housing. But he also preached discipline, setting aside $13.6 billion in reserve.
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