Gov. Jerry Brown is calling on the state to invest more than $400 million in flood control and emergency response. The governor’s move on Friday comes after heavy storms damaged a spillway at Oroville Dam earlier this month, forcing the evacuation of more than 100,000 people.
By the end of this fiscal year, $50 million for immediate flood prevention will be redirected to the general fund. Brown is also requesting the Legislature approve spending more than $380 million from the water bond voters approved in 2014. That money would go to various flood control projects over the coming two fiscal years.
Brown says, overall, California has $187 billion worth of infrastructure needs that it must start addressing right away.
“When the roof is leaking, if you don’t fix it, it will cost more later. So yeah, it’s serious, but I wouldn’t panic,” he said.
Brown has sent a letter to President Trump listing 10 high-priority infrastructure projects he hopes the White House can assist with. But Brown acknowledges the state’s currently tense relationship with the administration presents some challenges.
“We have to, I think, walk a very thoughtful line here seeking help that we need, but also calling attention to those things that we object to and fighting vigorously when required,” Brown said.
California may have recently gotten a glimpse of what its contentious relationship with the federal government could cost the state. Last week, federal transportation officials said they’re delaying a $647 million grant that would have helped electrify Caltrain between San Jose and San Francisco. Brown called the project a no-brainer and questioned the motives behind the delay.
“If you’re not for that, you’re really not for infrastructure,” he said. “The only thing you can say for that is it’s scoring political points by politicians that know better and should do better.”
In addition to more spending for flood prevention, Brown also wants more detailed inspections of dam structures and legislation requiring emergency action plans for state-regulated dams.
The administration’s Department of Finance estimates that damages from storms throughout the state in January and February, including the Oroville Dam, will cost California more than $1 billion.