Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced the revised budget which reflects the turmoil COVID-19 is having on California’s economy. The May Revise details the funding priorities moving forward and features significant cuts to a multitude of programs. The updated budget also withdraws funding for several new initiatives and includes plans for further funding reductions in the event federal funding cannot adequately meet the state’s needs.
“This is no normal year. And this no ordinary May Revision,” said Governor Newsom in his budget summary. “Our state is in an unprecedented emergency, facing massive job losses and shortfalls in record time. This budget reflects that emergency.”
While the Governor pointed out safe drinking water and wildfire preparedness as being funding priorities, the revised 2020-2021 budget proposal eliminates $20 million that was going to support grants for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program known as SWEEP. Now withdrawn from the California budget is $40 million in General Fund support to aid in the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
“I am disappointed, but it’s understandable that there’s not general fund money to continue supporting our statewide water efficiency program,” California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross said in a media call. “But I do want to remind people that while we might not have $20 million for that program in this upcoming fiscal year, we have over the five-year life of this program funded 725 projects with $72 million.”
In his summary describing the state’s economic position moving forward, Governor Newsom highlights federal assistance as playing a sizable role in structuring California’s budget. Several reductions have been proposed if the state does not receive sufficient funding from the federal government, such as a 10 percent reduction in support for the University of California system. The UC Office of the President, UC PATH, and the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) would experience a decrease of more than $34 million in funding. New initiatives that were highlighted in the January budget, including the nearly $170 million in general funds for supporting a five percent UC base increase, have been now been withdrawn. The revised budget also eliminates another $3.6 million that would have supported a five percent base increase for UC ANR.