The California Legislature has adjourned for their annual Summer Recess after finishing the policy committee deadline, passing a $308 billion State Budget and a welter of trailer bills that Governor Newsom quickly signed into law. The State Budget established a new mark as being the largest in the history of the Unites States. The Legislature will return to the State Capitol on August 1 to complete their work, including fleshing out some of the programs receiving allocations in the Budget, before bringing the second year of the Session to an end on August 31.
The Budget package is contained in Senate Bill 154 (Skinner) and was modified by Assembly Bill 178 (Ting), known as the “Budget Jr. bill” after final negotiations between the Governor and legislative leaders. The Budget accomplished the Governor’s three highest priorities of providing a tax rebate to citizens, Medi-Cal reform to allow for direct state contracting with Kaiser Permanente and the creation of a CARE Court to assist the mentally ill portion of the homelessness population. Like last year, since the state continues to experience a large surplus of funds, many legislators were able to secure funding for specific recreation and park projects in their area of the state. I have placed a link in this article to the lengthy list of items slated to be allocated that were included in the Budget Bill Jr. (Link, beginning at page 355). The list once again underscores how valuable it is to establish and maintain a close working relationship with your own state legislators to provide access for state funding for local programs when the state has excessive financial resources.
A few Budget highlights include $7,200,000 in recreation grant opportunities, $6,674,000 allocation to the Department of Park and Recreation and $3,783,000 for special districts that suffered losses from 2021 wildfires. The Budget also notes that the following items will receive additional allocations to be worked out during the last four weeks of the Session:
- Wildfire: $320 million
- Drought: $116.2 million
- Extreme Heat: $150 million
- Nature-Based Solution: $594 million.
In addition to the ongoing budget-related work, the CARPD Legislative Committee has been actively involved on a number of measures during this year’s legislative process. Assembly Bill 1737 by Chris Holden, as introduced, would have created substantial burdensome regulatory and inspection requirements for day camps. After a series of meetings with our members, the author and staff addressed our concerns and modified the bill to remove our opposition. In a similar vein, Assembly Bill 2186 by Tim Grayson, relating to impact fee reimbursements, was amended to remove our objections. Senate Bill 938 by Bob Hertzberg has been amended to enact the Little Hoover Commission recommendation on LAFCO reform by setting a 25% rather than a 10% voter protest threshold.
Other bills of relevance that remain alive and active this Session include Assembly Bill 30 by Ash Kalra to establish a state policy to ensure that all Californians have safe and affordable access to nature and outdoor activities, Assembly Bill 1789 by Steve Bennett that would create a Recreational Trails Fund to promote investment and grant opportunities for trail improvements and Assembly Bill 1643 by Robert Rivas to create an Extreme Heat Advisory Committee to promote training and planning for local agencies.
The Legislative Committee has also been keeping a close watch on the Business Roundtable sponsored Initiative entitled the “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Initiative” designed to diminish the ability for public agencies to pass revenue enhancement measures through the local initiative process. The Initiative has engendered the opposition of hundreds of local government organizations. Although the proponents are continuing the signature gathering process, they are no longer planning to qualify it for the 2022 Ballot and are now focusing on placing it on the November 2024 Ballot.
August will be a busy month in Sacramento as legislators work at a fever pitch to conclude their business before diving full bore into November election campaign activities.
Public Policy Advocates, LLC