Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources
Cap and Trade
Next week, the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources and Environmental Protection will hold on oversight hearing on the state’s cap and trade expenditure plan. As you may recall, the Governor proposes in his FY 15-16 budget to appropriate $1 billion in Cap and Trade revenues to a variety of different GHG reducing programs. This represents an approximate $130m increase from the FY 14-15 expenditure plan. This is also thought to be a conservative estimate as revenues from the state’s first 2015 auction have come in at a higher rate with the fuels portion of cap and trade now under the cap. The Governor’s Cap and Trade expenditure proposal is largely similar to last year’s plan, funding similar categories included in his adopted FY14-15 expenditure plan at largely the same levels, with an increase to the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities fund (increase of $70m from FY14-15), the Fire Prevention and Urban Forestry Program (increase of $25m), the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (increase of $25M), and the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (increase of $75m). CSAC continues to advocate for the establishment of a Local Government funding program in addition to the AHSC program, focusing on funding projects in the natural resources and energy sectors. As the state contemplates moving beyond our 2020 goals, it is clear that additional strategies and new approaches will be necessary to help meet 2030 and 2050 targets.
Payment In Lieu of Taxes
SB 234 (Walk) – Support
As Introduced February 13, 2015
SB 234, by Senator Lois Wok, would address the back payment of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funds owed to local governments. Specifically, this bill would appropriate $19 million from the General Fund to the Department of Fish and Wildlife to make payments owed to counties for unpaid PILT. State PILT payments have been suspended for approximately 12 years, resulting in an outstanding obligation to 36 counties. While we certainly support the payment of one year of PILT as proposed in FY 2015-16 budget, we also support the outstanding obligation to local governments for this program. The in lieu fees are intended to offset adverse impacts on county property tax revenue that result when the state acquires private property for wildlife management areas. This discretionary revenue stream is very important to our small and rural communities throughout California, particularly those areas that have not shared in the economic recovery occurring in many regions of the state. This bill will be heard in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee next week.
SB 198 (Morrell) – Support
As Introduced February 10, 2015
SB 198, by Senator Mike Morrell, would repeal the State Responsibility Area (SRA) fees enacted by ABX1 29 (Chapter 8, 2011). The SRA fee was enacted as part of the budget process in 2011, authorizing CAL FIRE to impose an annual $150 fire prevention fee on habitable structures located in the SRA. CSAC remains concerned with the potential impacts of the SRA fee on the current structure of fire protection within the SRA. Many landowners have already agreed to assess themselves for the purposes of fire protection/prevention. Despite the $35 discount for habitable structures that have local fire protection services, the SRA fee will make it more difficult for local jurisdictions to pass/raise local-generated monies for protection services. This bill will be heard in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee next week.