SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown’s $180 billion May revision to the 2017-2018 budget proposes cutting millions of dollars from funding to fight fires and support local tree mortality projects in California’s forestlands.
The Governor’s updated budget, released on Thursday, May 11, cuts funding for the Office of Emergency Services from $52.7 million to $8.5 million, with only $2 million allocated “for local agencies to remove dead or dying trees.”
“This is less than four percent of the funds allotted in January of this year,” says Assemblyman and Budget Committee Member Jim Patterson of California’s 23rd District in a statement released today.
“Cal Fire would also see a huge cut if the Governor’s budget is approved. Funding for the extended fire season, increased firefighter surge capacity, Conservation Corps fire suppression crews, and aerial assets is set to be slashed by nearly half — from $91 million to $41.7 million.
“The drought may be officially over, but the tree mortality crisis is not. Trees are still dying and the need to fund local efforts is greater than ever. Now is not the time to slash and burn these vital programs.”
Richard Bagley, President of the 168 Fire Safe Council believes the drastic cuts threaten to undermine the ongoing work within mountain communities statewide.
“Ignoring the current conditions will make the situation worse and more costly, hopefully not resulting in loss of public lives, or the lives of the firefighters dedicated to trying to protect them,” says Bagley in a statement released by Assemblyman Patterson’s office today.
Patterson is roundly criticizing Governor Brown’s proposed budget cuts, noting that the governor recently declared May 7-13 as “Wildfire Awareness Week” in California.
“His proclamation acknowledged the continuing threat of fires and noted the 423,000 dead trees removed thanks to the work of local Tree Mortality Taskforce groups around the state,” says Patterson. “The Governor is patting himself on the back for creating the Tree Mortality Taskforce while crippling their funding source. Programs that put money in the hands of residents to clear wildfire fuel from their property should be fully funded. The health and safety of our forests, families and fire fighters depends on it.”
Politifact California disagrees with Patterson’s reading of the facts, calling his claims “mostly false.”
“Patterson taps into a real concern over tree mortality and its cost to local governments,” says Chris Nichols in an article posted May 25. “But his statement cites a misleading budget number and ignores critical facts that would give a very different impression.”
To read the entire article on Politifact, click here.
To view the May Revision to the Governor’s Budget 2017-18, click here.