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in the KNOW

June 10, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown - photo courtesy of The Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown – photo courtesy of The Sacramento Bee

 

Gov. Brown & Legislative Leaders Reach Budget Deal

Last night, Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders struck a $122 billion General Fund budget deal for the 2016-2017 state budget year. It includes, among other funding: $2 billion more than required for the state’s rainy day fund, $400 million for low-income housing subsidies, $100 million in increased funding for preschool and childcare providers to assist in paying their employees the rising state minimum wage, and ends a state rule preventing mothers from receiving additional funding if they have another child while on welfare.

Decisions regarding funding from the cap and trade program revenues for agricultural efforts such as SWEEP, a grant program to incentivize energy efficient irrigation technologies that reduce greenhouse gases, and funding for dairy digesters to reduce methane, were not resolved by the budget conference committee this week. This funding will be decided upon at a later date.

A vote on the budget is anticipated next week given that legislators are required to pass a state budget and send it to the governor by June 15. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

June Primary Election Analysis

Since California adopted the “top two” primary system–where the top two candidates receiving the most votes regardless of their political party proceed to the general election in November— elections have become more unpredictable and that is evidenced in this week’s primary. With a greater number of candidates challenging incumbents, an increase in the number of same-party opponents, as well as higher levels of outside campaign spending in the form of independent expenditures, there is more uncertainty in the outcomes of elections in California.

In the June primary, this uncertainty combined with another factor. Californians registered to vote in record numbers, over 17.9 million people, prior to the June 7 primary election according to the California Secretary of State. “In the 45 days leading up to the voter registration deadline, there was a huge surge in voter registration—total statewide voter registration increased by nearly 650,000,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said.

Interestingly, though 72 percent of eligible California citizens registered to vote, only about 33 percent of registered voters actually voted on June 7. This means about 5.9 million California voters cast ballots out of the 17.9 million registered voters.

A myriad of reasons may have caused the lower than expected voter turnout including the lack of a competitive Republican presidential race on the GOP side, and for Democrats, possibly because the media announced–one day before the California primary–that Secretary Hillary Clinton had secured enough super delegates to become the presumptive Democrat nominee. It seems Californians registered in high numbers because they were excited about the prospect of possibly being able to influence the presidential election. In the end, however, that was not our fate and this may have kept voters from the polls.

In any case, the turnout impacted the outcome in some of the most watched races and the unpredictability brought on by the “top two” primary system is keeping poll watchers on their toes.

Click HERE for an overview of some of the hotly contested state legislative races.

Groundwater Facilitation Support

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced it is offering in-kind facilitation support for the formation of groundwater sustainability agencies and for those developing groundwater sustainability plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGMA).

The program links water management groups with professional facilitators to help local entities meet SGMA requirements. Services include strategic planning, stakeholder assessments, meeting facilitation, mediation, governance assessment, and public outreach services.

Click HERE for details about eligibility and other requirements on DWR’s website.

Ag Council Weighs-In Regarding Proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released its proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant SLCP Reduction Strategy in April, which aims to reduce emissions by creating arbitrary goals and mandates on businesses in California. Ag Council provided written comments to ARB on May 26 and has been highly involved in this process by attending hearings, holding meetings and organizing a tour with regulatory staff, as well as submitting comments to urge ARB to address our members’ concerns.

As ARB continues to work on finalizing a strategy, Ag Council continues to drive home the message that the emission reduction targets are too aggressive, the plan lacks sufficient incentive funding and more research is needed to determine the viability of the various technologies for reducing emissions and also assess the costs and benefits.

Click HERE to read Ag Council’s detailed comments on the SLCP Reduction Strategy.