Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
JULY 8, 2005 California Farm Bureau Friday
Review, budget and bills
California’s new State Budget was approved by the Assembly on vote of 65 to 13 and 34 to 4 in the
Senate. The $117 billion spending plan still leaves the so-called structural deficit problems in place
and set the stage for the November battle royal over the "California Live Within Our Means Act"
that stops the autopilot overspending and forces the state to not spend more than they bring in.
Some of the highlights of the State Budget include:
• An increase in education spending by $384 per pupil over last fiscal year.
• No new taxes although there are approximately $19 million in new civil court filing fees.
• $1.3 billion in gasoline sales tax revenues is dedicated for highways and transit projects, fully
funding Proposition 42 for the first time since it was approved by voters in 2002.
• A $1.2 billion loan from local governments will be repaid a year early, thus reducing the
state's obligation for the future.
• Cost of living adjustment for the state's CalWORKS program, which provides financial
assistance and training to help low-income parents enter the work force, will be frozen two
Governor Schwarzenegger was forced to give in on several of his proposed spending cuts including
shifting the state’s $469 million annual contribution to local school districts for the State Teachers
Retirement System. He also could not convince the Democratic leaders to accept a reduction in the
state's contribution to in-home supportive services salaries to minimum wage or the $408 million in
state worker concessions. The governor is expected to use his line-item veto power to shave millions
more from the spending plan before he signs it into law next week.
This year's budget also includes an important item of tax bill relief for water right holders in
Northeastern California who participate in the California Department of Water Resources'
Watermaster Program. Participants pay a portion of the program cost through assessments that
appear on their county property tax bills. During the recently ended fiscal year 2004-2005, these
assessments doubled from the previous year. For the new fiscal year, the Department of Water
Resources intended to dramatically increase these assessments yet again, by $1,441,100 statewide,
an average of $895 per participant. However, language included in the budget prohibits any increase
in the assessments for this year. California Farm Bureau, several County Farm Bureaus, and
numerous Farm Bureau members invested considerable time and effort informing their local
officials and state legislators of these threatened increases, and advocating against them. Several
county officials were directly involved as well, as was the Regional Council of Rural Counties.
Northern California legislators were instrumental in including the relief in the budget.
Assemblyman Rick Keene, vice-chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, played a key role, and
Assemblyman Doug La Malfa and Senators Dave Cox (author of CFCF sponsored legislation on the
watermaster program) and Sam Aanestad all actively supported the effort in important ways and
voted in favor of the relief on the Assembly and Senate Floors.
Remarkably, the budget is free of unpleasant surprises in the water arena for California farmers and
ranchers. The Governor and legislative leaders should be commended for sticking to fiscal issues
instead of loading the budget bills up with the kinds of side deals and secret policy provisions that
have characterized many previous budgets. This year’s resources trailer bill has a minor item that
affects water rights processing at the State Water Resources Control Board, providing the Board an
additional year (until January 1, 2008) to complete instream flow regulations for North Coast
streams, and securing additional funding to the Board to do this work. The funding relieves pressure
at the Water Board to increase the state Water Right Fee to fund this work. CFBF opposed the
imposition of the requirement to do the regulations, and is concerned that water right applications in
the North Coast area will be delayed further while the Board works on these regulations.
Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley scored a big victory in the budget with the full funding of the
Central Valley Rural Crime Prevention Program. The Governor’s initial budget proposal only
allowed for $1.4 million; thanks to the continued efforts by our Central Valley members, the final
budget was raised to $3.3 million for the program. Now that the program is fully funded we need to
make sure that the statutory authority for the program continues. The program sunset on July 1st and
SB 453 (Poochigian, R-Fresno), the bill to continue the program, has still not been passed by the
legislature. SB 453 is currently on the Assembly Appropriations Committee Suspense file and will
be heard by the committee in August. CFBF will continue to work on getting this bill passed and
signed by the Governor.
Proposed pesticide legislation that is opposed by the agricultural community underwent a surprising
procedural step this week. Last week, SB 879 (Martha Escutia, D-Whittier) was denied approval by
the Assembly Agriculture Committee on a 4-4 vote. When a bill is denied approval, it usually
remains in the committee and is given the courtesy of reconsideration so the author can bring it back
for another vote, usually after accepting amendments that will assure its passage. Instead, SB 879
was assigned to the Assembly Rules Committee, supposedly with the understanding that it does not
move from Rules unless the Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Barbara Matthews (D-
Tracy) is satisfied with the contents of the bill.
Negotiations are underway to resolve concerns of the agricultural community, but at this time there
are several provisions that are still very troubling. SB 879 mandates that fines be imposed where
there is actual health or environmental hazard. There is a concern about how an actual health hazard
could be defined, such that an odor complaint (being unpleasant as opposed to a medical threat)
could be construed to be included. Agricultural commissioners are meeting with the proponents,
industry and other administration representatives trying to find a compromise that assures
agricultural commissioners have a clear decision tree to use in imposing pesticide law while not
eliminating flexibility in fitting the penalty to the severity of the violation. CFBF is opposed to SB
879 as currently written, but will continue to be involved in the negotiations.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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