Environmental groups are generally lauding Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget, which includes an outline for spending revenue from the state’s carbon auctions.

The cap-and-trade program charges companies for the right to pollute. Fees are then supposed to be used for programs aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and to shield consumers from any hikes in their electric bill caused by the regulation. Brown’s budget proposes how to spend $850 million from the program:

(Source: Governor's Full Budget Summary)
(Source: Governor’s Full Budget Summary)

A quarter of the revenue is required to go towards helping environmentally disadvantaged areas, with one tenth invested within those communities.

“The most vulnerable to climate change are those who are low-income and communities of color,” said Mari Rose Taruc with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. “A few of the priority investment areas include energy efficiency for low-income homes. It includes affordable transit-oriented development as part of a broader sustainable communities strategy, as well as urban forestry.”

Last year, the governor outraged environmentalists by “borrowing” cap-and-trade revenues to balance the general fund. This year’s budget includes $100 million being repaid from that loan, plus $750 million in expected revenue from the program.

The overall budget picture is rosier than in years past, as KQED’s Sacramento bureau chief Scott Detrow explains.

Brace yourself, Californians: There’s no state budget crisis this year. Repeat: No crisis.

Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t actually say those exact words this morning as he unveiled his spending plan for the next fiscal year, but he did sound a rare note of budget optimism. “For this year, there is very good news,” Brown said. “Good news in the fiscal stability and resources available for the state of California.”

Other environmental budget items include $785,000 for Proposition 65 reform; $655 million for state parks, including $40 million to catch up on deferred maintenance; $6.7 million for oil spill prevention and response, with an eye toward the expected increase in shipments of crude oil by rail; and $618 million for water-related spending, including conservation, infrastructure, flood prevention, drinking water and habitat restoration

When asked in a press conference this morning about more immediate water concerns in this very dry year, Brown said he’ll do everything “humanly possible” to address water resources, but added, “Governors can’t make it rain.”

Governor’s Budget Plan Getting High Marks from Environmentalists 21 July,2014Molly Samuel

  • Andrew Alden

    The budget also proposes a significant increase in the Geological Survey’s fault mapping program after years and years of cuts. The Hollywood Fault finally convinced people that this is important.

  • What about the Governor’s proposal to use $300 million of cap-and-trade money for the dumb high-speed rail project? Hard to believe that environmentalists are happy about that.


Molly Samuel

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

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