Governor Newsom Releases Proposed 2023-24 Budget with Cuts to Climate Spending
Governor Gavin Newsom last week released his Proposed 2023-24 State Budget. The $297 billion Proposed Budget is responsive to what the Administration forecasts as a $22.5 billion budget deficit (lower than the Legislative Analyst’s Office’s estimate of $24 billion) – a stark contrast to the historic surpluses of the past two budget cycles. As with other recent budgets, the Governor’s proposal prioritizes early education, addressing homelessness and building additional housing throughout the state.
The Governor is not yet proposing to tap into the State’s roughly $23 billion in general-purpose reserves to address the projected budget shortfall. Rather, the Proposed Budget suggests numerous cuts, shifts and delays in funding (the Governor’s proposal notes that some of these budget cuts could be reversed next year if the State’s fiscal outlook improves).
For instance, the Governor has proposed to cut $94.2 million in Climate Smart Agriculture Programs from allocations made in fiscal years 2021-22 and 2022-23 – a ten percent decline. Programs that will suffer funding reductions include the State Water Efficiency Enhancement Program (SWEEP) and the Healthy Soils Program, among others. The cuts will not uniformly impact climate-smart programs, however. For instance, the Small Agricultural Business Drought Relief Grant Program and the Department of Conservation’s Multi-Benefit Land Repurposing Program, among others, will retain the full funding allocated in the prior two budget cycles.
The Governor’s budget blueprint proposes more modest cuts to the 2021-22 and 2022-23 allocations for Wildfire and Forest Resilience – a three percent cut – and Drought Response and Water Resilience – a two percent cut – and in total retains $48 billion of the state’s recent climate investments. Importantly, the Budget proposed $385 million in additional 2023-24 water resilience investments, including $40.6 million to strengthen Delta levees and $25 million for Central Valley flood protection.
During his budget briefing, the Governor also floated the possibility of a climate resilience bond to soften the blow of budget cuts and address risks associated with flooding, wildfire and drought.
The Governor’s Proposed Budget merely kicks off the budget cycle. Legislative budget committees will now begin their own deliberation on the State’s spending plan ahead of the Governor’s “May Revise” of his proposed budget. The Legislature must pass a 2023-23 Budget Act by June 15.
For a deeper dive into the Proposed Budget, see the February edition of CCA’s Hot Irons newsletter.
State of Emergency Declared, Federal Assistance Available in Response to Winter Storms
On Saturday, President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Merced, Sacramento and Santa Cruz counties. The declaration allows individuals in those counties “affected by severe winter storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides” to receive “grants for temporary housing and home repairs [and] low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses” from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The declaration also makes federal funding available in those counties for emergency response and statewide for “hazard mitigation measures.”
According to a press release from Governor Gavin Newsom’s office, “Additional impacted counties may be included once storm conditions allow state, local and federal officials to safely assess the scope of damage.” President Biden last week approved a federal Emergency Declaration for 17 California counties in response to the unrelenting series of atmospheric rivers pummeling the state.
On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom’s office announced that residents in 41 counties may claim tax deductions for disaster losses and that the tax filing deadline has been extended until May 15. The federal Internal Revenue Service has announced an identical tax-filing extension.
CCA reminds producers that they may be eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) disaster assistance for losses incurred during the winter storms. Property and forage losses may be compensated under USDA’s Emergency Conservation Program or the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; ranchers may receive payment assistance under the Livestock Indemnity Program for livestock lost as a result of the storms. USDA recently expanded eligibility for several of these assistance programs. To inquire about federal assistance from USDA,contact your county FSA office (the contact information for which can be found here).
Finally, CCA has been in regular contact with the State’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). Members are encouraged to keep CCA staff apprised of any emergency actions necessary to protect your herds, homes and families, and please do not hesitate to contact CCA if we can assist in coordinating emergency response with CalOES or other agencies.
SWRCB Lifts Prohibitions Against “Inefficient Livestock Watering” as Curtailments Remain Suspended Statewide
Curtailments remain suspended within the Scott and Shasta River watershed as previously detailed in the January 3 edition of Legislative Bulletin (while Scott River watershed curtailment suspensions are currently set to expire tomorrow, CCA staff anticipates that the suspensions will be extended).
Significantly, though, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) last week announced that it has temporarily lifted prohibitions against “inefficient livestock watering” within the Scott and Shasta River watersheds in light of “high flow events” within those watersheds (for range cattle, inefficient diversion is anything in excess of 150 gallons per head per day as measured from the point of diversion). Water rightsholders may divert livestock water without complying with the SWRCB’s efficiency requirements under the following conditions:
- Minimum flows of 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) are maintained at the Fort Jones gage for Scott River watershed diversions, or of 220 cfs at the Yreka gage for Shasta River watershed diversions;
- Diverters first notify the SWRCB of their intent to divert by emailing ScottShastaDrought@waterboards.ca.gov, including details of the water right, point of diversion, anticipated amount of water to be diverted and the diverter’s contact information;
- Diversion is of no more than 20% of the instream flow; and
- Diverters allow the SWRCB and Department of Fish and Wildlife to access and inspect the point of diversion and surrounding area.
For further details, review the Scott River and Shasta River Watersheds Drought Response webpage.
On Tuesday, the SWRCB announced that all curtailments within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed “remain temporarily suspended until further notice.” For more information, see the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed Drought & Curtailment Information webpage.
As of this past Saturday, “there are no water right curtailments and no riparian reductions in place” within the Russian River watershed, and SWRCB does not anticipate any updates to curtailment statuses in the watershed “until late February at the earliest.”
Finally, while the SWRCB has issued no formal curtailment status update for the Mill Creek and Deer Creek watersheds, the minimum flow rate of 50 cfs has been exceeded for both Mill Creek and Deer Creek in recent weeks, , and “Flows…in excess of the required minimum flows…may be diverted pursuant to the priority of the right” according to curtailment notices sent to water rightsholders in October.
CBD Petitions for CESA Protections of Greater Sage-Grouse
The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to list the Greater sage-grouse as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. CBD’s petition identifies livestock “Grazing…as a factor affecting sage-grouse and its habitat” and goes so far as to refer to grazing as “an insidious form of biotic disturbance that has exerted ongoing disturbance on the sagebrush ecosystem over many decades.” The state-level petition comes as the livestock industry has avoided federal listing of Greater sage-grouse over the past decade largely thanks to the voluntary efforts of ranchers to help conserve the species. CCA will strenuously oppose the petition, including at the Commission’s February meeting, where it will formally receive the petition. For more information, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.
New Episode of Stories from California Cattle Country
Stories from California Cattle Country, “Waterworld with Justin Oldfield at Daehling Ranch in Elk Grove” is out now. To listen to the episode, click here. Stories from California Cattle Country is produced by The California Cattlemen’s Foundation with support from the California Cattle Council. If you want a glimpse into our travels, follow the podcast’s Instagram account @calcattlecountry.
CCA has a New Location!
The California Cattlemen’s Association is excited to announce that we have a new office location and will be moving in the coming week. CCA’s new address is 3841 North Freeway Blvd., Suite 130, Sacramento, CA 95834.