Insurance Surcharge Proposed To Fund Calif. Fire Suppression Efforts

By | January 10, 2010

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has submitted to the Legislature his proposed 2010-11 budget — and called for “greater reductions in nearly every aspect of state government than were necessary in 2009.”

“With our national economy still struggling to recover, California, like most other states, must confront an additional budget gap of nearly $20 billion,” he said in a statement. “In many ways, the decisions that will be necessary to close this gap will be even more challenging – and far more difficult.”

Among his proposed cuts, he called for a decrease of $32.8 million for CAL FIRE’s emergency fire costs. He noted that based on expenditures to date, CAL FIRE’s emergency fire suppression expenditures are estimated to be $255.8 million in 2009. In 2010, he proposed a total of $223 million, which he said reflects the historical average of emergency firefighting costs over the past five years and additional federal reimbursements.

Additionally, Gov. Schwarzenegger suggested reducing funding CAL FIRE’s Fire Protection Program by $200 million from the state’s General Fund, and replacement funding with revenue generated from a 4.8 percent statewide surcharge on all residential and commercial property insurance. Beginning in 2011, the Emergency Response Initiative will provide funding to enhance the state’s emergency response capabilities, including enhancements for CAL FIRE, the California Emergency Management Agency, the Military Department, and assistance to local first response agencies in support of the state’s mutual aid system, he said.

Schwarzenegger said he was suggesting cuts because the state is in a “midst of a fiscal crisis,” and was making “every effort to maintain essential services for Californians who need them most.”

“In particular, my budget proposal protects education, including higher education, from additional deep cuts. I believe strongly that additional reductions below current year funding levels would leave a permanent scar on our children and on the greatest university system in the world. In fact, I intend to propose a re-prioritization of funds away from administration and into the classroom, and away from prisons and into our universities,” he said.

To view more of Schwarzenegger’s 2010-11 budget details, visit http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/BudgetSummary/BSS/BSS.html.

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