Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) announced Wednesday that the 2021-2022 State Budget includes historic investments to address the state’s ongoing wildfire and drought crisis through the Legislature’s new investments in climate resiliency. The final budget package was approved this week and incorporates many of the critical investments originally proposed and outlined in Senator Portantino’s SB 45.
“Deadly and intense wildfire seasons and a multi-year drought are the devastating impacts of climate change that are not only costing California billions of dollars every year, but also putting our residents and infrastructure at risk,” stated Senator Portantino. “Investing in preventative measures will save the state billions of dollars. I am pleased that we had the financial ability to include investments in the budget that were originally outlined in my SB 45, a general obligation bond measure, to implement our climate resiliency strategy and fund solutions that protect vulnerable communities and our natural resources. We must take bold action to tackle this crisis and our budget does just that.”
Earlier this year, Senator Portantino introduced SB 45, the Wildfire, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2022. The measure proposed a general obligation bond of $5.5 billion to address the impacts of climate change. The bill included efforts to reduce wildfire risk and restore damaged areas, restore and protect impacted wetlands, watersheds, and waterways, reduce impacts on vulnerable populations and improve the resiliency of water supplies and agricultural lands. Because of unprecedented budget capacity, the Legislature decided to use current fiscal resources rather than a bond to meet the projects envisioned by Senator Portantino’s SB 45.
The adopted “Climate Resiliency Package” in the budget invests $3.7 billion in regional climate resilience solutions, watershed protection, fish and wildlife protection, agriculture and food supply resilience, and coastal protection. Importantly, the budget also provides $1 billion for wildfire prevention and mitigation, including community hardening and science-based management, as well as nearly $3 billion for water and drought relief measures such as sustainable groundwater management, recycled water, and stormwater management – all of which were proposed in SB 45.
Key investments advanced by Senator Portantino include:
- Over $500 million in early actions for new investments in wildfire prevention and mitigation appropriated to agencies like the Santa Monica Mountains and Lower LA River Conservancies;
- $250 million for “septic to sewer” investments to convert homes and businesses on septic systems over to municipal waste water systems;
- $500 million to small communities and disadvantaged communities to help make immediate investments in water conservation, drought relief, conjunctive use, and better groundwater management.
“These landmark investments are now approved in the budget,” stated Senator Portantino. “But our work is not over. I will go back to work immediately to secure these funds for my communities that are in dire need of assistance and at great risk for drought and wildfires. In addition, over the coming summer months, the Legislature and Governor will continue to work on further investments in climate resiliency, drought, and wildfire prevention. I will be at the table to ensure that my district and the state benefit from those additional investments,” he added.