Exploring the Governor’s proposed State Budget is perhaps analogous to reading Dickens in that you have to traverse a lot of descriptors before getting to the good stuff. Even then, the good stuff can be hard to find. Such is the case with the 2013-14 blue print to balance California’s budget.
If you’re in the business of creating local parks, conserving farmland, or managing and enhancing the state’s urban forests, there’s not much to get excited about in this budget. There are no dollars identified for these programs, and several others that have relied on bond funds for the last decade. Even the usually reliable Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program is targeted to be swept into a broad-cased Active Transportation Program – the details of which are still unknown. “Bleak” may be the word that comes to mind.
But before you pack it in completely, as our friends across the Pond would say, there is a ray of hope buried five paragraphs into the Budget Summary for the California Air Resources Board and the list of projects that are being evaluated for cap and trade funding:
Other areas to be examined during the planning process include sustainable agriculture practices (including the development of bioenergy), forest management and urban forestry, and the diversion of organic waste to bioenergy and composting. The investment plan will assure benefits to disadvantaged communities.
For months, dozens of special interests – both good and bad – have been angling for a spot on this list of six items that could move forward in the initial implementation plan for funding consideration with cap and trade revenues. And our trees made the grade. Throw into this mix potential opportunities that could materialize in a 2014 water bond and/or Proposition 39 implementation, and suddenly we’re back to Dickens.
This will be a challenging year for urban forestry, and we will be calling on our Network for support at the local, state and federal level as, together, we work towards garnering a slice from a pie that cumulatively runs into the billions of dollars. So while it appears we have nothing before us, the reality is… ah, you know the rest.
Thanks much for your support in the past and in the times to come.
Chuck is the Grants Manager (and a recovering ex-lobbyist) at California ReLeaf.