The Friday edition of The Barbed Wire is on hiatus for the week of June 18th while the RCRC Board of Directors is in Mammoth Lakes, Mono County for the June meeting in the County of the Chair. Next week, The Barbed Wire will return with the latest legislative and regulatory news impacting California’s rural counties.
On Monday, June 14th, both houses of the Legislature approved Assembly Bill 128, the main 2021-22 State Budget bill. While the State Budget Package remains woefully incomplete, a number of key issues to RCRC member counties were in the State Budget Package, including homelessness, investment in fairgrounds, and creation of a Cannabis Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant program. Some of the funding categories are still contingent on the passage of future budget trailer bills to expand on programmatic changes.
Key Issues Addressed in the State Budget Package for RCRC Member Counties:
Homelessness. The State Budget Package includes $10.6 billion over four years, with approximately $8.6 billion over two years, including $1.2 billion in one-time American Rescue Plan Act funds for Project Homekey and $1 billion General Fund for flexible local aid. The Legislature’s plan also includes $5.6 million in funding for the Homelessness Coordinating and Financing Council to do a homelessness gaps and needs analysis. The Legislature’s proposal will require additional legislation to implement the details of how the funding can be utilized.
Public Health. Despite the State’s continued response to the pandemic, the Governor’s May Revision did not include funding for public health workforce or infrastructure. The Legislature prioritized investment into public health and included $200 million annually for Local Health Jurisdictions and $35 million annually for public health workforce development in the State Budget Package. RCRC is part of the CA Can’t Wait Coalition advocating for the inclusion of a $200 million ongoing investment for local health departments as contained within AB 128 in the final enacted budget.
Investment in Community Resilience Centers Including Fairgrounds. The State Budget Package includes $150 million in one-time General Fund for the Department of Food and Agriculture to support the enhancement of community resilience centers. This funding will be available to improve local fairgrounds and other community facilities to bolster the state’s emergency preparedness capabilities and could be used to support infrastructure for emergency evacuation, shelter, base camps for emergency events, and critical deferred maintenance. RCRC has consistently advocated for funding for the enhancement of fairgrounds and will continue to support and encourage the state to increase funding for local fair facilities.
Increased Staffing for Enforcement and Development of New Regulations at the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The State Budget Package adds nine new positions and redirects 38 existing staff (69 percent of the current unit) from the Local Assistance and Market Development Branch to the Waste Permitting, Compliance and Mitigation Division. These staff will be focused on enforcement activities related to the new SB 1383 Organic Waste Recycling regulation, which will likely focus heavily on local government efforts to comply with and implement the new law. The State Budget Package also authorizes CalRecycle to hire an additional five personnel who will constitute a new Regulations Development Unit that will help the department develop new regulations. Together, these two changes will cost roughly $2 million annually.
Cannabis Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program. The State Budget Package includes the Governor’s $100 million in one-time General Fund proposal to create a Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program for cannabis targeting 17 jurisdictions that have high numbers of provisional licensees across the supply chain, many of which were early adopters and are transitioning larger populations of legacy and equity operators into the regulated market. Below are the RCRC member counties called out in the State Budget Package as counties eligible for the grant and their respective grant allocation.
Humboldt County: $18,635,137
Lake County: $2,101,143
Mendocino County: $18,084,837
Monterey County: $1,737,035
Nevada County: $1,221,188
Sonoma County: $1,158,023
Trinity County: $3,295,102
California Disaster Assistance Act. The State Budget Package includes $162.6 million in funding available through the California Disaster Assistance Act (CDAA). CDAA funds can be accessed by local governments in the wake of a gubernatorial emergency proclamation after events such as catastrophic wildfires and mudslides to cover associated emergency response costs.
Office of Youth and Community Restoration. The Legislature’s budget plan increases funding to $30 million (as compared to approximately $7 million in the Governor’s May Revision) in support of the Office of Youth and Community Restoration, which – pursuant to the provisions in the 2020 Department of Juvenile Justice Realignment– will be established on July 1, 2021, within the State’s Health and Human Services Agency. Related actions include adoption of placeholder trailer bill language to clarify and expand the role and duties of the office with respect to juvenile justice system oversight.
Major Investments in Capital Outlay and Deferred Maintenance. The State Budget Package approves hundreds of millions of dollars for capital outlay and deferred maintenance projects at many state facilities. Many of those projects previously described on pages 12-13 of the Rural Rundown (May 14, 2021) are located in RCRC member counties and include repairs and new construction at court, correctional, parks, California Highway Patrol, CAL FIRE, and the Department of State Hospitals facilities.
Williamson Act. The State Budget Package includes $1,000 for the Open Space Subvention Program, which is the lowest possible dollar figure that allows the program to remain in the State Budget Package.
State Payment in Lieu of Taxes. The State Budget Package maintains the $644,000 in funding to the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program from previous years. Not included was funding for the approximately $8 million accumulated over several budget cycles in the 2000’s.
State Mandates. The State Budget Package maintains suspensions of mandates that are not related to law enforcement or property taxes, consistent with previous years’ State Budgets, providing $45.6 million General Fund for a select list of funded mandates. The State Budget Package also includes $4 million to continue the county-optional block grant program for activities identified as reimbursable state mandates in the Interagency Child Abuse and Neglect Investigation Reports (CSM-00-TC-22) mandate.
Over the next several days and weeks, it is expected that remaining issues will be considered and adopted. It should be noted that the Legislature and the Governor do not have an agreement on the State Budget Package, which leaves some uncertainty as to the Governor’s position on the proposed spending plan.