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Align California’s Budget Surplus with Key Environmental Plans

2:42 PM PDT on June 7, 2021

“This is an historic, transformational budget. This is not a budget that plays small ball.” - Governor Gavin Newsom on the May Revise, May 14, 2021

Governor Newsom, the California Senate, and the California Assembly are in the midst of negotiations over how to spend the $75 billion surplus in the state budget, plus $27 billion in federal aid headed towards the state. This is a major opportunity to ensure that California's spending is aligned with several key state plans currently created or being created: the California Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI), the 30 x 30 Executive Order (conserving thirty percent of California’s land and coast by 2030), California Air Resources Board’s new Climate Change Scoping Plan, and Executive Order N-70-29, which calls for all new cars sold in California to be zero emission by 2035.

CAPTI, for example, has been developed through a rigorous and extensive stakeholder process led by CalSTA and outlines many of the key moves that must be taken to align transportation funding with our state’s climate, equity and public health goals and values. As the budget spending proposals move forward, ClimatePlan urges the Governor to align any new transportation funding in this budget it with plans like CAPTI and the strategies they contain.

Fourteen ClimatePlan network partners recently worked together to submit a letter to Governor Newsom and Secretary Kim regarding the need for alignment in funding. The full letter can be read here.

ClimatePlan also recently hosted a meeting with Assembly Transportation Committee consultants and network partners to discuss CAPTI and the budget.

To create the best budget possible, it’s worth considering some key questions:

    • How are the Governor and Legislature threading the needle to make sure that their proposed spending is supporting and aligning with key, stakeholder-driven plans and initiatives, like CAPTI and the Climate Change Scoping Plan?
    • How are the Governor and Legislature ensuring that surplus dollars fill the funding gaps needed to support implementation of these plans, while ensuring the plans are metrics-driven, bring about tangible progress, and are making the transformative and historic impact our state needs when it comes to climate change?How are the Governor and Legislature prioritizing spending in a way that is equitable as we reduce emissions, protect our natural and working lands, and electrify the state?
    • How are the Governor and Legislature making certain that state agencies (OPR, Caltrans, CalSTA, CARB, and others) are regularly convening and working collaboratively to ensure comprehensive and thorough implementation of the great plans they’re creating?

“The [Governor's budget] proposal really recognize that Californians face the most difficult air pollution challenges in the United States, and that transportation pollution is at the root of the problem,” said Will Barrett, Director of Clean Air Advocacy with the American Lung Association. “Many of Governor Newsom’s proposals would help not only reduce transportation health burdens, but also reduce disparities caused by decades of inequitable investments in our transportation systems. Given California’s most impacted communities are suffering from the effects of pollution today, the Governor and Legislature must move immediately to invest in active transportation, transit and zero-emission transportation to benefit our most impacted communities.”

Governor Newsom is right - there is no more time to play “small ball.” Many Californians feel the very real threat of drought and wildfires in our state. Given our climate crisis and the pandemic, we are due for transformational and historic change.

As we move forward, however, we want to make sure we’re not just sprinkling surplus dollars about, but rather taking the opportunity to strategically and concertedly align our spending with the comprehensive plans in place. The ClimatePlan network will continue to work with the Governor's office, the Legislature, state agencies, and regional partners to ensure these plans are implemented.

The ClimatePlan partnership, which includes more than fifty partner organizations representing a broad range of interests, works to improve land-use and transportation planning to protect Californians’ health, communities, environment, and climate.

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