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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Fairs: RCRC requests $100 million to make capital improvements, including broadband deployment, to State District Agricultural Association fairgrounds.
  5. Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA): RCRC requests $100 million to assist counties in implementing their SGMA obligations.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Watershed Resilience Portfolio: RCRC requests $75 million to assist counties in improving regional water resiliency within the watersheds.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.