Earlier this week, RCRC sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom outlining the top 10 2020-21 State Budget priorities for California’s rural counties. “The projected $7 billion surplus for the 2020-21 State Budget could provide the resources needed to address many issues of importance to RCRC member counties,” stated Paul A. Smith, RCRC Vice President Governmental Affairs.
While RCRC advocates across a multitude of issue areas, the following is an outline of specific priorities, in no particular order, as the relate to needs in California’s rural counties:
- Forest Health and Wildfire Mitigation Funding: RCRC strongly recommends the continued dedication of SB 901 monies to forest health, restoration, and fuels treatment programs as outlined in the original legislation.
- Williamson Act: RCRC continues to advocate for funding of payments to counties, and urges the Legislature and the Administration to recommit to the program. RCRC requests $45 million to eligible counties.
- Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS): RCRC requests $150 million to rural counties to increase resiliency of local critical facilities and infrastructure, and to mitigate the strain on local governments and California residents.
- Fairs: RCRC requests $100 million to make capital improvements, including broadband deployment, to State District Agricultural Association fairgrounds.
- Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA): RCRC requests $100 million to assist counties in implementing their SGMA obligations.
- Solid Waste: RCRC requests $100 million annually to assist counties in implementing new organic waste regulations. RCRC also requests another $100 million annually for solid waste and recycling programs to address the decline in offshore markets, improve the quality of recycled materials, and increase in-state infrastructure necessary to achieve and maintain these recycling goals.
- Community Wildfire Resiliency: RCRC requests $100 million annually for local governments, fire safe councils, and resource conservation districts to establish local home hardening and defensible space assistance programs to help low-income residents in high and very-high fire hazard severity zones safeguard their homes against wildfire. RCRC is also requesting $16.2 million to local governments over the next five years to assist small communities in very-high fire hazard severity zones to incorporate fire safe development planning.
- Watershed Resilience Portfolio: RCRC requests $75 million to assist counties in improving regional water resiliency within the watersheds.
- Rural Water Infrastructure: RCRC requests $150 million to fund regional integrated water resource initiatives to improve rural water infrastructure, rehabilitate needed recharge facilities, and improve self-sufficiency.
- University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension: RCRC requests $95 million to support research in agriculture and to improve the productivity and competitiveness of California’s agricultural endeavors.
RCRC’s letter can be accessed here.