SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymembers representing fire prone districts in Northern California are reacting to the introduction of a new budget bill designed to address wildfires and the state’s water shortage.
Assemblymembers Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals), Megan Dahle (R-Bieber), and James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) each celebrated the 5 year commitment of $200 million annually for healthy forest and fire prevention grants via a continuous appropriation through 2028-29 in Assembly Bill 155.
“We represent areas of California that have been hit the hardest by these catastrophic fires,” the lawmakers said. “We’ve been pushing all year to make this funding a reality, and we’re proud to see the Legislature on the verge of finally making a firm commitment to funding this critical prevention work. There is no doubt that this funding commitment would not have happened without our relentless advocacy.”
The Northern California Assemblymembers expressed disappointment that detrimental provisions (“poison pills”) have been added to this large budget bill, making it ultimately unsupportable.
“We need to address these fuel loads now – there is simply no more time to waste. But this bill does nothing to streamline CEQA or remove regulations that are slowing down or stopping important fuel reduction projects. Instead, this budget bill is giving regulatory relief to build the Delta tunnels and remove dams. That’s crazy and unacceptable,” they said.
The lawmakers also noted the following reasons why AB 155 is unsupportable:
- The bill provides no additional funding for water storage.
- The bill provides no regulatory relief to build water storage projects.
- The bill increases the Public Utilities Commission Members’ salary 5% annually over the next three years, on top of automatic pay increases.
- The bill provides no funding for clean energy projects that will further incentivize the removal of deadly fuel loads.
The budget bill is expected to be voted on in both houses of the Legislature tomorrow.