Budget Surplus, Climate Action Deficit

On May 14th, Governor Jerry Brown released the latest version of his 2013/14 budget, which will now be debated and revised by the legislature in anticipation of their June 15th deadline for approving it.

The budget was much anticipated by CalCAN and many other groups who have been advocating for investments of the state’s cap-and-trade auction revenue in communities and projects that reduce GHGs and sequester carbon. To our collective disappointment and surprise — especially given the state’s current budget surplus — rather than make those investments, the Governor proposes to use the revenue to make a $500 million loan to the General Fund.

It is our position that the state should not delay in using all possible tools in the cap-and-trade program toolkit. Deciding on how to spend these funds is one of the last major pieces to be put in place. There is no time to waste in making investments in climate solutions that also stimulate economic activity, create jobs, support disadvantaged communities and provide a host of environmental co-benefits.

At CalCAN, we have long argued that a portion of the auction revenue should be allocated to climate and agriculture research, technical assistance, incentives for voluntarily implemented sustainable agriculture practices on California farms and ranches, and protection of farmland at high risk of GHG-intensive development. These are the ultimate “shovel ready” projects, worthy of investments that will ensure our food security and long-term viability of California’s economically depressed rural communities.

The long-term costs of delaying action on climate change in the name of fiscal prudence dwarf the $500 million proposed expenditures of auction revenue. The sooner we start investing in community-based climate solutions, the greater impact we will have on curbing climate change.

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