in the KNOW

May 9, 2014

Deal Reached on Rainy Day Fund

Governor Jerry Brown negotiated a bipartisan deal this week with legislative leaders to create a Rainy Day Fund to be used by the state during economic downturns and to pay down debt and accelerate the payment of unfunded liabilities.

Governor Brown said, “Democrats and Republicans have come together to create a Rainy Day Fund that ensures we’re not only saving for the next downturn, but also paying off our debt.”

The deal sets aside 1.5 percent of state general fund revenue annually for the Fund and diverts spikes in capital gains taxes into the Fund. It is scheduled for a vote in the Legislature next week.

Republican lawmakers conditioned their support on an annual contribution into the Rainy Day Fund, which is now included in the plan, and Republican leaders have expressed support for the effort. Bipartisan support is needed for the plan given that a two-thirds vote is required for passage and, with three Democrat lawmakers suspended due to criminal charges, the state Senate does not have a two-thirds supermajority.

If approved by the Legislature, the new plan would replace an existing ballot measure on the November 2014 ballot. The current ballot measure to establish a reserve fund was crafted in 2010, and it is being criticized by unions and others. Such criticism led Governor Brown to develop the new plan for a Rainy Day Fund.

Click HERE to read the Governor’s press release.

May Budget Revision

Governor Jerry Brown is expected to soon release his 2014-2015 budget revision, called the “May Revise.”  Ag Council will provide information to members regarding any issues affecting agriculture once the budget revision is released.

In the meantime, the Legislature is taking steps to include changes to groundwater policy within the budget process. Over concern about where such action may lead, Ag Council and others are asking legislators not to mandate groundwater policy decisions within the budget because that process does not allow for appropriate input from stakeholders.

Because groundwater is an extraordinarily complex issue, we fear policy decisions made within the state budget process will result in far-reaching changes to groundwater policy in California without appropriate stakeholder comment and involvement. Click HERE to read a recent letter signed by Ag Council.

Food Labeling Bill

Ag Council continues to advocate against SB 1381, which is a bill mandating the labeling of genetically engineered food in California. Ag Council opposes the measure because it increases food costs, expands liability, and is not grounded in science. Over 400 scientific studies conducted on genetically engineered food show the food is safe for consumption. The author of the measure is Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa).

The Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to hear SB 1381 on May 12. Ag Council and other opponents are urging legislators to place SB 1381 on the suspense file where it could be held due to the fiscal impact of the bill on the state.  To read our opposition letter, click HERE.

In Case You Missed It

Last week, Ag Council’s newsletter contained a status update relating to legislation we are involved with including bills regarding the labeling of genetically engineered food, pesticide use, and antibiotics in farm animals. Click HERE to read more.

Vacancies on Fertilizer Subcommittee

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has four openings on its Fertilizer Research and Education Program’s (FREP) Technical Advisory Subcommittee. Members of the subcommittee make recommendations to the Fertilizer Inspection Advisory Board for the funding of research and education projects.

The purpose of FREP is to fund research efforts to advance the environmentally safe use and handling of fertilizer materials in agriculture. Click HERE for the qualifications needed and instructions on how to apply.