Schwarzenegger proposes $1.9 billion cut in Calif. environmental programs

Most cuts in environmental programs were attributed to a reduction in available bond money for the year, the governor's office said. Proposed budget would also shift $1.3 billion in gasoline sales tax revenue from a special account meant for transportation infrastructure to the general fund. This move displeases contractors and environmentalists alike...

SACRAMENTO, CA, Feb. 22, 2005 -- Funding for environment-related programs would be cut by about $1.9 billion in FY2005-06 under a proposed spending plan sent by Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the legislature, according to a BNA Environmental Reporter news item in the latest e-newsletter from the Society for Protective Coatings.

Most of the cuts in environmental programs were attributed to a reduction in available bond money for the year, the governor's office said. The proposed budget would also shift $1.3 billion in gasoline sales tax revenue from a special account meant for transportation infrastructure to the general fund. This move displeases contractors and environmentalists alike.

Over the last several years, state lawmakers have adopted policies aimed at weaning CAL-EPA agencies away from general fund money, with the goal of making them more reliant on permitting fees, grants, bond money, and "other" special funds. Under Schwarzenegger's plan, CAL-EPA would receive $1.3 billion from these "other" sources in 2005-2006, about $200 million less than last year, which would bring its total budget to about $1.4 billion.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is the only CAL-EPA agency expected to see its budget grow under the plan. The proposal would provide a total of $236.8 million for the air board, $69.6 million more than in 2004-2005. Most of the budget increase would come from higher fees in the economic incentive program to help reduce mobile source emissions. A government advisory council had called for the abolishment of the air board and other environmental regulatory groups in the state last year; however, the governor has decided to keep CARB in place.

For budget details, see: http://govbud.dof.ca.gov/home.htm or www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/ddwem/.

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