DESPITE $54 BILLION STATE BUDGET DEFICIT, DFW FUNDING MOSTLY INTACT
The California Legislature recently approved and Governor Newsom signed the 2020-21 State Budget, a $202.1 billion spending bill which helps close a $54.3 billion deficit stemming from the economic fallout of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Significant cuts had been proposed in the Governor's May Revise to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's (DFW) operating budget. But after lobbying by CWA and many other conservation groups, including our waterfowl and wetland partners on the Central Valley Joint Venture
(most notably the Defenders of Wildlife), most cuts were fortunately avoided.
CWA's main focus had been on protecting funding for DFW's lands, most notably its Type A and B Wildlife Areas that include managed wetlands and other key waterfowl habitat that require costly annual maintenance and enhancement work. Our lobbying efforts not only included testimony before the Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees and many meetings with key legislators and their staff, but also a legislative wetland tour in February of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area that highlighted DFW land funding issues such as increasing mosquito abatement, water and noxious weed control costs.
While we were unsuccessful in shifting additional Cigarette Tax monies (which historically have been used for waterfowl purposes on DFW lands) to DFW's Comprehensive Wetlands Program, the approved 2020-21 State Budget ultimately included a $2.1 million increase for DFW's Land Management Program from other fund sources. These "new" monies for the support of DFW lands are a positive step especially considering the exceedingly difficult budget environment; however, much more needs to be done to address DFW's chronically underfunded and understaffed Wildlife Areas.